Growl is a little monster. And little monsters love to GROWL!
So what does a little monster do when she’s banned from growling? Will the neighbours agree to let her do the thing she loves most? How will Growl get her growl back?
This book began with the song ‘My name is Growl and GROWL is what I do’. From the start, I knew the song was sung by a cute little monster, and I knew that she would get into trouble for the ‘enthusiasm’ of her growling, and be banned from doing it. In the first version of the story, she was in trouble with her parents for growling, but as my agent pointed out ‘Why would a monster be in trouble for growling? Surely her monster parents would want to be encouraging that sort of typical monster behaviour?’ She definitely had a point (agents are great like that). So I turned it into a neighbourhood dispute, with the classic device of a robber to move the narrative along. Robbers often feature in children’s books because they’re scary but not too scary. I love the message of The Story of Growl, about accepting others for who they are, the importance of community and of considering others as well as yourself.
But one of the most important things for me about Growl is that she is a girl monster. I’m a firm believer in strong female role models for little girls. The book doesn’t make a big thing about her femaleness, I don’t call her a ‘girl monster’ for example – I hate that default position of maleness, that there would be monsters and girl monsters. She also doesn’t have any of the cliche traits used in picture books to denote girls – long eyelashes, ribbons in her hair, a dress. You only discover she is a girl monster when on the second page it says ‘She’. Growl is super cute and very sassy. Even though I knew that most picture books don’t present girls in as sassy and spirited, it was still a surprise how political it was to have a female main character like Growl. In the 21st century! I know that Growl has been loved by lots of little girls, both the non-princess type ones and the princess-type ones, and by little boys as well.
Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book 2008
Shortlisted for Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year 2008 – Young Children (2-5 years)
Penguin/Viking in Australia ISBN 0-670-07045-9 – 1st Edition
Kane/Miller in USA ISBN 978-1-933605-80-7 (Out of Print)
New Buds in China ISBN 978-7-5307-5147-3
Penguin Group / Woongjin, Korea ISBN 978-89-01-11290-9 (Smart English Project – in English with MP3 audio, as you hold the ‘pen’ over the words, they are read aloud)
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