Working with developer Pony Tale, Flashlight Press recently released a digital adaptation of their humorous bedtime story I Need My Monster (December 2012). The print picture book, written by Amanda Noll and illustrated by Howard McWilliam, was originally published in April 2009.
The young protagonist can’t fall asleep when Gabe, the monster under his bed, goes on a week-long fishing trip. Missing Gabe’s “ragged breathing,” “nose-whistling,” and “the scrabbling of his uncut claws,” the boy auditions several “substitute” monsters. None of them meet his standards, though; they’re all too well-mannered or well-groomed, and one is even female (apparently, “everyone knows” that “boy monsters are for boys and girl monsters are for girls”). Luckily, Gabe returns that night — since fish scare too easily, but his human friend presents a real challenge — and the boy is able to fall asleep at last.
Throughout the story, the text and the illustrations (which depict the monsters as more goofy than frightening) place the boy firmly in control of the situation, upending the typical monster-under-the-bed scenario. The narrator’s light tone and the upbeat musical score emphasize the monsters’ lack of scariness.
The app offers both “Read to Me” and “Read by Myself” options, plus a short explanation of the icons and how to use them. In the “Read to Me” version, words are highlighted as the narrator speaks them. A pull-down menu at the top of the screen with thumbnails of each scene allows for easy navigation. There are a few clever interactive opportunities to discover on each page: drawings on the wall come to life, lights turn on and off, the monsters’ hairstyles and accoutrements change, and the boy gasps and giggles. A matching game and a pattern-recognition game featuring the monsters, both with multiple levels, round out the app.