Review of Not a Monster

Not a Monster Not a Monster
by Claudia Guadalupe Martínez; illus. by Laura González
Primary    Charlesbridge    32 pp.
5/23    9781623543037    $17.99
e-book ed.  9781632899446    $9.99

In this picture book, Martínez seamlessly blends legend and science to expand readers’ understanding of axolotls. She starts with the creature’s life cycle, placing it in its natural habitat, and then recounts the myth of the creation of the axolotl—morphed from and named after “the Aztec god of monstrous things.” The axolotl, Martínez asserts, is “Not a Monster” but rather an important part of a fragile ecosystem. Elders agree: “When…the creatures are gone, it will be the end of paradise.” Subtle details in González’s hazy mixed-media illustrations complement the blend of cultural and scientific information (e.g., Aztec-inspired patterns populate the water and plants when the legend is introduced and linger after). The text naturally weaves in Spanish words, and Spanish names for colors are printed in those colors, allowing readers to learn their meanings with help from the illustrations (all Spanish words used are eventually defined in a glossary). “A couple of amigos row their chalupa morada along the water” to search for the elusive Not a Monster. After the friends help to clear trash from the canal, they follow a trail of heart-shaped lily pads to a cluster of axolotl eggs. The young conservationists—and readers—are rewarded with a final illustration of the hatched axolotls, as well as photos of Martínez’s pet axolotls in her author’s note.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monica de los Reyes

Monica de los Reyes is editorial assistant for The Horn Book, Inc.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.