A girl who loves inventing things faces the monsters created by her negative thoughts in the excellent children’s picture book Sammy’s Monsterous Thoughts.
Sammy, a young inventor, is spending Saturday inventing a new gizmo, but when she tries it out she gets an electric shock. Frustrated and angry, Sammy releases a negative thought: “I can’t make this work!” A monster appears and begins eating everything in Sammy’s workshop, until she catches it. Sammy tries to fix her gizmo, but this time it explodes, and Sammy’s negative thoughts escape again: “This is too hard! I won’t ever get this right!”
More negative thoughts emerge, each becoming a monster. It seems too much for Sammy—until she notices an inspirational note she’d written for herself reminding her to stop wasting time on negative thoughts. She refocuses her efforts, the monsters fade away, and the gizmo finally works.
The message is clear: Negative thinking leads to destruction; positive thinking aids creation. When Sammy realizes, “I messed up and that’s OK!” she conquers frustration by herself, without an adult’s involvement, making her an inspiring role model.
The cartoonlike visuals give Sammy’s negative thoughts strong, physical form, making the message entertaining as well as understandable. The monsters are cute, rather than scary. Sammy’s personality also is conveyed through background details, including a SpaceX poster in her bedroom, ideas illustrated on her chalkboard, and the pulley-bucket elevator to her treehouse laboratory.
The writing and pacing are brisk and exciting, although the book’s end seems a bit abrupt. There are a few other minor missteps: When Sammy is chasing the first monster, the text reads, “Catching it wasn’t easy.” But on the next page, Sammy is cleaning up the lab; the monster has disappeared. Several pages later, it’s shown in a small cage. Children might be distracted by the lack of transition.
Regardless, Sammy’s Monsterous Thoughts delivers a valuable lesson in a fun, charming, dynamic package.