Little Brothers Can Be Monsters – Literally!

BY Bruce Coville

Harper  16.99 370 pages

Ever since his dad and grandfather disappeared, Jake’s life has never been the same. Things changed even more drastically when a baby is left on his porch! Jake’s mom names the tiny tot Little Dumpling (LD for short) and decides to keep him. A few nights later, LD suddenly sprouts bright green fur, pointy ears, sharp claws and fangs! Lily is Jake’s best friend and together they set out on an adventure to save the world.

Bruce Coville’s book Always October takes readers into a secret land of monsters while Jake, Lily and some new pals hide to keep LD safe from a faction of monsters who want to harm him. This fun, spooky story is about friendship, family, acceptance and unconditional love.

Jake and Lily take turns narrating chapters from their own points of view. Lily lives with her grumpy grandpa after spending several years in the foster system. The two friends must find clues and solve puzzles to discover the truth behind the disappearance of Jake’s dad and the mystery behind LD’s monster characteristics.

Because it is a Young Adult book, there are no pictures, but Coville’s detailed descriptions create vivid images. Throw in some imagination and the words read like a movie. Readers will probably notice that Jake has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and he uses rituals like counting to deal with anxiety and stress. Parents can use this opportunity to discuss kindness, tolerance and acceptance for others who cope with things differently. Lily has a unique family, and LD certainly adds some quirkiness to Jake’s atypical family. This proves that families come in all shapes and sizes. When you are surrounded by love, you’re home even if it means having a monster for a baby brother!

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin

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