• Charles Dunn

Monsters Eat Whiny Children, by Bruce Eric Kaplan [an offbeat review]



I have two children, neither of them whiny. I also have a donut tree in the backyard. And I can turn college loan statements into bacon with my mind.


Before you get all in a twist, no, the whiny kids in question don’t get eaten. Boooo. They do get kidnapped by monsters who intend to eat them, which fulfills the suggestion in the title, if not the execution. Anyway, when they reach their house on the bad side of the town, the monsters’ plan immediately falls apart, and they spend the rest of the story bickering over the best way to a serve up a whiny child lunch.


Whiny child burgers? Not unless you want to clean the grill. Whiny child cake? I’m trying to watch my figure. Curry? Oof. My plumbing can’t handle that again. The children, meanwhile, play by themselves, unconcerned about the debate raging in the kitchen. Eventually a consensus is reached. Whiny child cucumber sandwiches! By then, for better or worse, the kids have slipped out and made their way home. The monsters are left to eat their whiny child cucumber sandwiches without the spotlight ingredient.


I don’t generally go for stories with a moral, since they have a nasty habit of beating you over the head with it. “So be a Happy Helper and clean your room! Because Happy Helpers help others feel happy!” [gag] This one is more like, “Brats get what brats deserve. And these two almost got their just desserts.” (Sorry. Weak joke. Let’s move on.)


Despite the lesson, the book doesn’t irritate me, which puts it in the 95th percentile for writing achievement. And the kids enjoy it, going so far as to request whiny child cucumber sandwiches for lunch sometimes. Without the spotlight ingredient of course. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, or at least frowned upon. So whether you want to serve this one up as a simple bedtime story, or a candy-coated warning to your offspring, I recommend both the book and the sandwiches. Though I’d skip adding dill to your sandwiches unless you already know your kids like it. Mine are real picky that way.