I was always a big fan of lovable, furry old Grover when I was a kid – the flailing arms, the frantic behavior, the goofy voice, his breathless performance of “Upstairs, Downstairs” (on “Monsterpiece Theater – hosted by “Alistair Cookie”), and his fearless crash landings as “Super Grover”. He is also the star of my favorite Golden Book of all time, which we read together tonight: “The Monster at the End of this Book” by Jon Stone.
The plot of this simple but brilliant piece of literature centers on the fact that Grover has read the title and is terrified of meeting the monster at the end of the book. With each turn of the page, the reader, and Grover, get closer to meeting the monster…and Grover becomes increasingly hysterical. He begs and pleads, and even attempts to physically bar the reader from continuing by “nailing” pages together and building a brick wall. Alas, all of his efforts are to no avail, and at last he comes to the end of the book and discovers…well, I guess you have to read it yourself to see!
I love this book, although reading it aloud can result in coughing fits if you actually try to read it as Grover; I did that for a few pages tonight and was rewarded with some priceless giggles. The book invites interaction as Grover pleads with the reader (“should we stop reading now?”…”do you want to go on?”) or erects obstacles (“are you strong enough to turn the page?”…”can you help me, this page is really heavy”). If you read the reviews at Amazon you will find several that talk about the deeper meaning of the book – post-modern angst, we have seen the enemy and it is us, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – but for me it’s just flat-out fun to read and it always makes me laugh. If you find a deeper meaning that resonates with you amid the laughter, so much the better.