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Another Monster at the End of This Book...Starring Grover & Elmo!
Pros: Fun, interactive elements on every page; great suggestions for turning the book into a learning moment.
Cons: The characters' process of conflict resolution isn't made clear and concrete for young kids.
Bottom Line: While the interactives will keep kids engaged, grownups will need to drive learning, keeping conversations tied to empathy and conflict resolution.
Teachers should use Another Monster at the End of This Book ... Starring Grover and Elmo! as a conversation starter. Kids will have fun with the interactive elements, and they'll enjoy being able to flip through the pages on their own. Teachers could also read the book to small groups or the whole class. The parent section offers great suggestions for thoughtful questions and conversation topics; teachers will definitely want to take a look at the suggestions here. Some topics involve exploring feelings (bravery, being scared, etc.), and teachers can have kids share their own experiences here. Others are about what to do in a conflict; teachers can guide a lesson on strategies to use when people disagree. Finally, teachers might do well to focus on learning new vocabulary: While some of the words may be new to kids, having expanded vocabulary in this area could be empowering.
In Another Monster at the End of This Book.., Sesame Street characters Grover and Elmo disagree on whether they should keep turning pages to arrive at the end of the book. Grover is afraid of the monster that supposedly lives there, but Elmo wants to see the monster. On every page Grover comes up with ways to avoid turning pages, while Elmo encourages the kids to foil Grover's attempts as they read.
For example, kids can remove paper clips, knock down walls of blocks, clear away glue, and open a steel door with a color code. Finally Grover comes up with a compromise: Grover says he'll meet Elmo "half way" -- kids can turn the page, but only one little peek. But when they turn the page they only see one another, and each thinks the other is the monster. Elmo encourages the reader to go back to the beginning to try again, although Grover doesn't want to.
In typical Sesame Street style, the story is cute, the characters are lovable, the dialogue and plot are clever, and the interactive elements are fun. There are also plenty of hints and help to guide kids through the app, even if they don't know what to do. The parent section includes a list of great ideas for encouraging active reading and starting meaningful conversations.
However, it's important to note that learning will rely mostly on input from grownups. The story itself doesn't include many examples of positive conflict resolution: Grover is mostly ignored while Elmo goads readers to keep turning the pages. Kids who linger on a page may finally hear some additional dialogue that shows more respect for both sides, but kids who rush through aren't likely to pick up on this. It would be nice for kids to see a more balanced and respectful conflict-resolution process. Nevertheless, the story provides good fodder for discussion about considering others' feelings, as well as conflict resolution.