Cover Image: A Monster Like Me

A Monster Like Me

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A Monster Like Me is a great book with a strong message that everyone could benefit from hearing..  Sophie is a monster expert and with the help of her book on monsters can tell what specific monster other people are.  The relationships between the characters in this book are wonderful and made me want to keep reading.  I would recommend this book to anyone.
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Moving to a new town is scary enough. But what happens when you are a monster and cannot tell anyone? Sophie believes she was cursed as a baby by a witch and is now a monster. She hides her face behind her hair and her Big Book of Monsters that she carries everywhere with her. Her book helps her identify other monsters, both good and bad, around her. When she meets, Autumn, she finds herself a new friend, who also happens to be a fairy. They start an adventure to find a cure for the witch's curse on Sophie.

Wendy Swore does an excellent job of introducing hard topics, such as bullying, in such a way that readers are not scared off. The issues she tackles and writes about can be hard for some to read, even adults. It is hard to read how cruel kids and adults can be to each other when they are not the exact same as you. Sophie overcomes the bullies and blossoms throughout the book and finds the good. She is a delight to follow on a journey of self discovery, acceptance, hardship, and finding friends.
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*Review of eARC received from NetGalley*

I’ll be 100% honest - this book came onto my radar because of mean-spirited cancerous Twitter trolls trying to pressure the author and publisher to pull this book from publication. And since that kind of ridiculous nonsense pushes my berserk button, I immediately requested it from NetGalley before the metaphorical book burners could get it completely banned.

As is the case with many other books targeted by censorious free-expression haters, the beautiful message of love and acceptance and mercy is one that is sorely needed. I have to wonder if the YA Twitter mobs actually read the book, or if they just got whipped up into a frenzy by one, frankly, pathetic case of sour grapes. Actually reading the book would be too difficult - it’s much easier to be upset because the internet told you to be. Takes less effort and thought.

Sophie has a blood tumor that causes an unsightly mark on her face. People stare at her, many make rude comments, and her illness has inadvertently caused emotional stress in her family. She withdraws into herself and into a book called “The Big Book of Monsters,” one of those encyclopedic-type books that talks about supernatural creatures from fairy tales and folklore from all around the world. She also believes she was cursed by an evil witch to become a monster and the mark on her face is her “monster mark.”

She also assigns creature identities to people she meets - the boys bullying her in school are goblins, her new best friend is a fairy, her mother’s gentleman friend is Koschei the Deathless, the kindly neighbor lady with all kinds of knickknacks in her house is a good witch. Most of this is kept secret in her mind, just as a way to help her deal with her struggles. But then the secret gets out and things spiral out of Sophie’s control.

I think a lot of kids will relate to this book. I can certainly relate to imagining bullies at school as vengeful monsters (though mine were of the evil fae or jealous queen variety - mean girls never change, especially if social media is anything to go by). I firmly believe that turning to fiction and make-believe can help people cope with hard things. The problems for Sophie happened when too many people knew her secret and didn’t understand what it meant to her. But in the end, her imagination actually helped her learn something about herself and it also broke the “curse,” in a very real sense. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s one of the more beautiful resolutions I’ve read in a long time.

And it came in a children’s book. Think about that for a moment.

All of the references to folklore are handled with respect and care. Especially the scene about the Native American princess that has the witch-hunters of the so-called “sensitivity brigade” bringing out  the torches and pitchforks. It refers to a story from a Native American tribe local to the town the book takes place in and it makes perfect sense that Sophie would be interested in local folklore, given that she’s already steeped in stories and legends from around the world. It’s a great addition to Sophie’s character arc and to excise it at the irrational behest of our world’s version of troublemaking goblins and gremlins would do the story a disservice.

I loved this book and would not hesitate to recommend it to kids and adults at the library I work for. I’d also like to nominate this (as well as others that have sadly been successfully removed from our literary repertoire in recent months) as a candidate for the ALA’s Banned Books List. Someone tried to stop me and other readers from enjoying this remarkable book and they deserve to be immortalized in the Annals of Idiots for Censorship.
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Love love love this book!

A Monster Like Me features Sophie’s first-person narrative as she navigates a world in which she looks like a monster (in her opinion) and other people act like them whilst looking human.

She sees witches, fairies, goblins and more everywhere she looks and constantly muddles fact with fantasy as she struggles to understand a world in which she is ostracised and bullied for her appearance and her mum seems fixated on ‘fixing’ her.

This is a beautiful, poignant and very clever exploration of what it is to spend your childhood on the outside looking in, and how coping strategies can mutate into something more harmful than helpful given time and pressure. I cried actual tears more than once, not just at Sophie’s struggles, but those of her friends and family.

The book isn’t just a tear-jerker though. It captures the highs and lows of childhood imagination: fairytale dens and daring quests to gather magical items, kind adults and best friends, all have equal importance with the health issues and bullies of the real world.

I would recommend this to anyone 8+ who loves a good story that tackles serious issues in an entertaining way.

You’d think monsters would have their own grocery store, but they don’t. They walk around with a cart the same as regular people and keep the monster part hidden inside where no one can see it. Mom’s grocery cart squeaks with every step like an elf getting squished, but Mom’s not a monster–not that I can tell anyway.

– Wendy S. Swore, A Monster Like Me

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
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This was such a wonderful story about acceptance and inclusion.  It should be a must read for any middle schoolers.  Sophie is an engaging character who has many hardships to overcome.  But with a new friendship and some loving adults she is able to overcome her fear and accept herself.

I really liked Sophie, she has a great imagination and at times I wasn’t even sure what was real and what was imagination.  Sophie’s inner dialogue was also fun to read.  She was very insightful at times, especially when she was identifying the different monsters in her life.  She had a good relationship with her mom too, which was nice to see.  I also enjoyed watching her developing friendship with Autumn.

Autumn was also a great character.  She was so accepting of Sophie from the start, and Sophie’s blood tumor didn’t bother her at all.  She was able to see Sophie for who she was right from the start.  I also really liked Autumn’s grandmother, who I was hoping would have a bigger role, but that is ok.

Sophie’s mom was good too, but I wanted her to stick up for Sophie a bit more.  She didn’t deal with Sophie’s issues very well.  When things happened she tended to ignore them, or just remove Sophie from them.  They changed schools because of bullying, and that was her go to solution when it started again.  She also tended to want to hide Sophie when they were out in public.  I think Sophie would have been more accepting of herself if mom had been.  

I really liked the little snippets we got from Sophie’s favorite book, The Big Book of Monsters in between the chapters.  The offered up some interesting insights into monsters and included a few that I had never heard of.  They were also from all over the world and different cultures, not just your typical ones.  

Some of the bullying scenes were hard to take.  I always like to think that kids are not that cruel, even when I know they can be.  I also like to think that adults would not be that bad, but there is one scene where and adult makes a very cruel remark about Sophie’s blood tumor that just made me really mad.  I really wanted Sophie’s mom to say something, but she didn’t.  That was a lost opportunity to help Sophie accept herself.

Overall, an excellent book that I highly recommend you check out.
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Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

I loved this so much. Such a cute middle grade. I highly recommend this book.
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DNF at 52%

Sophie is a monster expert. She has to be—she surrounded by goblins and trolls at school, a good witch that lives next door, a fairy as a friend, and a demon who is trying to whisk her mother away.

But Sophie has a secret. She's a monster, too. And she needs to find a cure, fast.
At first I was really enjoying this book. There was a lot of monster myth and lore from all over the world, the setting is Portland, Oregon, and there's a magical realism setting where the line between what's happening in Sophie's mind and what's reality is dramatically blurred.

Also, Sophie is convinced she's a monster in part because she has a hemangioma running across her face—it causes other kids to get scared or bully her, and adults stare in horror. Her coping mechanism is her monster book, where she obsessively catalogues every person and mysterious thing according to what the book tells her.

The part where I started to get bored and uncomfortable was during their visit to Multnomah Falls, where Sophie is told the legend of how the falls was creating—and then runs into a mysterious woman with black hair and a flowy white dress who gives her a New Agey type crystal necklace. Sophie believes this woman is the Native American princess in the story, since no one else saw the woman but her. Was it Sophie's imagination creating what she thought a Native American woman would look like? Was it her projecting? I dunno.

Then I read a little more, and my enjoyment was soured but that's mostly because I fell out of the mood to read this book any more. It might have been because I was listening to a particularly depressing audiobook that sucked the enjoyment out of my soul, or because work life has been poopy. Anyway, the part with the princess and the fact that what I'd thought was fantasy was really starting to blur into reality—with Autumn seeing things too? Or pretending?—was turning me off in a way that I wasn't finding enjoyment from the story anymore.

I do like that many of the experiences Sophie has, particularly with her bullying and hemangioma, are based on the author's childhood experiences—her isolation, coping mechanisms, and much more.

I think that many children will enjoy this, particularly those who maybe felt isolated and bullied, or who have or have a hemangioma and want to read a character who is like them (although maybe they'd like to wait a bit, seeing that Sophie experiences bullying), and children who have never experienced these things but maybe want to develop empathy or read a story with a lot of world mythology and monster lore. 

For the mythology inclined—at the end of each chapter are little snippets out of Sophie's Monster Book that gives a short history and explanation of a different monster/paranormal being from around the world—and how to spot, avoid or defeat them.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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The comparison to the popular novel Wonder is unavoidable here. The difference with this book is that protagonist, rather than facing the world with optimism, is dealing with shame and embarrassment that she doesn't entirely understand. She feels markedly different from her peers, th toe point that she feels she isn't even human. And her shame comes not just from her peers but from her family. From her father leaving and her mother's over-protection and search for a cure.  Swore is showing the reader how damaging a well meaning adult can actually be. This makes it an uncomfortable read at times but could inspire some important conversations about bullying and self-acceptance.
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What I liked about this book: This book has a great hook. Sophie is an expert on monsters. She can recognize them, and she believes she is one. Her imagination is fueled by a monster book that she reads religiously. This book is filled with thought provoking and discussion evoking themes of bullying, moving to a new home, loss of a parent, birthmarks, parents dating, looking and feeling different, friendship, loyalty, and illness. The book is well written, with realistic characters and fun excerpts from the Book of Monsters at the end of every chapter.

What I didn't like about this book: I felt like there was too much internal dialogue. I wanted to skip past all the thinking and re-thinking and ruminating and get to the heart of the story, or the action of the story. The book felt long and took me longer to read tham most books.

LOVE LOVE LOVED the cover!
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Such a lovely book about acceptance and inclusion.
Sophie has a wonderful imagination that layers onto her existing reality.
I was fascinated with her inner monologue; such curiosities revealed.
Everyone should experience Sophie's enchanting thoughts.

Thank you NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this ARC.
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This was in the genre "childrens" and has a cover that looks like a picture book. Nope. This book is over 300 pages long. Over. Three. Hundred. I was not expecting that. 
That being said, this is a pretty cute story about a kid with a blood tumor on her face. She's dealing with the kind of crap that happens when you look different externally. It begins to affect Sophie internally; she knows that there are monsters in the world because she herself is one, created by her tumor. 
She does get to make some friends and learns that she might just be a little bit more human than she thinks.
I wouldn't have put this book in the kids category; more middle school unless it's something you read out loud with your kiddo and then talk about with them.

Three and a half stars
This book came out March 5
ARC kindly provided by publisher and NetGalley
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Sophie might be young, but she's definitely smarter than most people. Why? Well, she can spot a monster from miles away - even if it's disguised as a human. And her big book of monsters helps her spot them even more easily. But how does she do it?

Sophie has a secret. She is a monster in disguise herself. At least, that's what her face hemangioma makes her feel. Which is why she spends her time avoiding children at school, hiding behind her hair and book, and leads a lonely life. That is, until she finds a new friend at school. Autumn is a fairy, and she loves Sophie just the way she is. Together, Sophie and Autumn embark on an adventure that will help her magically transform into a human again.

A loving story about image issues, self-love, friendship and everything-complicated, A Monster Like Me is a truly unique and magnificent book that all children (and grown ups) should read. In a beautiful, allegorical way, the author helps children realize that being different doesn't equal being shunned, and beauty comes from the inside. 

Tackling the difficult aspects of bullying and social acceptance, Wendy Swore manages to create a sweet story that will leave everyone reading it emotional. Through the mind of a child, the reader will see (and actually feel) what the life of a bullied and self-conscious child looks like - and what it can lead to if not handled properly. But the reader will also see what love and acceptance can lead to.

A Monster Like Me is a beautiful, moving story told so expertly, that no reader should miss out on. There's a lot to learn from Sophie - both for young readers and older ones. Definitely a recommended read.
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#AMonsterLikeMe #NetGalley 

I love the cover of the book, A Monster Like Me. Sophie believes she is a monster and carries around a book about monsters, which she uses as a shield to protect anyone from seeing the large birth mark on her face. A move to a new town, where she knows no one, is especially hard for Sophie and her single mom, Miranda. Sophie just wants to stay out of the limelight, but longs to have a friend. Sophie meets Autumn who doesn't  seem to notice the birth mark on Sophie's face, and sees her as a friend. Two of my favorite  characters were Autumn's grandma and Kelsi. A story about self worth, bullying, friendship, active imagination and learning about who you can be. A great book for children.
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“The world is a dragon; my book a shield.”

Sophie believes a witch cursed her when she was a baby and she now spends much of her time with her head down, reading and rereading ‘The Big Book of Monsters’. She uses it to help identify and protect herself against the monsters surrounding her that are cleverly disguised as humans and searching for clues to figure out what kind of monster she is so she can find a cure. She’s also hiding her face from the world because she’s ashamed of her ‘monster mark’, a hemangioma (blood tumour) that appeared when she was only a few months old.

I really liked Sophie for the most part but she also made me really sad. My heart ached for her each time she called herself a monster and every time someone stared, pointed at her or bullied her. She’s so self conscious because of her ‘monster mark’ and spent so much time looking out for danger that she missed out on having a lot of fun.

With Sophie always on the lookout for the mythological creatures from her beloved book she’s able to find the magical in people, but she can also find the monster in people whose behaviour doesn’t warrant the title. I found it interesting that for a girl who is eager to hide her face from the world she was quick to judge others based on physical attributes. She matches up what she’s read with those she meets and random circumstances that she attributes to them (like the wind blowing) confirm to her that the person is really a monster. This can result in wholly inaccurate assumptions based on first impressions; Kelsi is the best example of this. He’s adorable and the voice of reason in this book, yet Sophie is certain he’s a dangerous shapeshifter.

I loved Autumn, Sophie’s friend, who’s eager to play along when Sophie tells her she’s a fairy. Given what Autumn’s family are dealing with it makes sense that her lively imagination helps buffer her from painful reality.

I think my favourite character would have been Mrs Barrett if she’d played a larger role. I was disappointed when she started to fade into the background and would have loved more scenes with her in them.

I don’t know that Ms. Cloe’s role in Sophie’s life was introduced. I assumed she was a therapist (I spent the entire book waiting for someone to finally get this girl some counselling) but wondered why a therapist would be giving a client a present. [SPOILER - Sophie had to win a game with her mother and Ms. Cloe to get the prize, which I’m guessing Sophie’s mother bought, although this isn’t stated. Since the game involved chance, rolling dice and moving around a board, it was pretty convenient that Sophie won. - SPOILER]

Content warnings: [SPOILER - A subplot deals with a sick child who is hospitalised. An animal is injured but does not die. There are hints that a character is being bullied and possibly abused at home but this is not dealt with other than their behaviour being explained away because of it. - SPOILER]

Initially I loved the excerpts from Sophie’s monster book between each chapter because of my love for mythology, although I did have trouble finding the connection between excerpts and their surrounding chapters at times. The excerpts did get a bit of a preachy vibe towards the end, focusing more on being a good person than monsters. Not that there’s anything wrong with the whole ‘be a good person’ thing but I was really enjoying reading about the mythological creatures.

The cover image is wonderful and drew me to the book in the first place. I particularly liked the monster marks added to the font on the title. I did notice that in the book Sophie’s monster mark is on the right side of her face and the cover illustration shows her hair hiding the left side of her face. Once I noticed that I naturally couldn’t unsee it.

Now for the part of the review that I agonised about and the entire reason it took me almost two days to post my review after finishing reading. I want to make it clear that I read an ARC so this may not be an issue in the final version of the book. With that in mind, if I hadn’t committed to reviewing this book I would have abandoned it as soon as one of Sophie’s classmates was introduced (at 58%) as the cringeworthy and offensive [SPOILER - ”Zac the spaz” - SPOILER], regardless of how much I was enjoying it prior to then. Fair or not, that word tainted my enjoyment of the book from that point on so I’m really hoping this will not make it into the final version of the book. I expect this would have been a 4 star read for me if it wasn’t for that horrendous word.

Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.
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I received an e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Everything that I wrote here is what I felt about the book. You may or may not feel the same. Enjoy!
Sophie is a young girl with hemangioma on her face. That's what her mom and her doctor call it. Yet, she knows the truth. She thinks that the mark on her face is her monster mark. Sophie thinks that this world is full of monsters and they like to disguise themselves. Everyday, she carries her "the Big Book of Monsters" book everywhere, so she knows what kind of monsters she meets. She gets to make something magical to cure her monster mark. Autumn helps her to make the magical thing. To make the magical thing, they need to visit so many places together.
It is told in Sophie's POV. From that, we can know that Sophie has an incredible imagination. She is strong and smart. Really, I love her. She is such a supamegafoxyawesome character! The plot is interesting and feels right. Throughout the story she meets amazing people like Autumn's family, Kelsi (her mom's bf), and her teacher Ms. Joy. She also meets people who bring her problems like her classmates and a few teachers and people. Sophie learns so many things from everything that happens to her. The character development is great. It's like you watch them grow throughout the story. And it feels awesome!
All in all, it's a great book for everyone really, even for adults. But, it is best for middle grades. For, it has a really strong message. You will learn so many things as you read the book and I feel it myself. Oh, and it gives you "Wonder" vibes. :)
Thank you, Ms. Swore for writing such a supamegafoxyawesome book!
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This was such a sweet story! Sophie is obsessed with monsters. She uses monsters as a coping mechanism to deal with her bigger issues. She has a hermangioma on her face and gets teased about it at school and is often stared at by adults. This causes her to have social anxiety. So, she carries her big book of monsters with her to identify all the creatures she sees. The saddest part is that she sees herself as a monster as well. 

At Sophie's new school, she finds a friend. What an amazing friend she is, too, and Sophie is able to see life differently. Her mom is also amazing. 

This is such a sweet book that I would recommend to all young readers.
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Sophie is born with a medical condition that causes a blood tumor to grow on her face, at least that is what her mom says. Sophie knows the truth. It is her monster mark. A Monster Like Me is a touching tale of what it is like to be different. Sophie’s story paints a picture about what it is like to look different to both hide away from the world, and see it differently. Using a book called The Big Book of Monster, she navigates the world around her by classifying the people she meets as different monsters (both good and bad) in the book. This book is perfect for the middle grades. It has the feel of Wonder, but with some magical realism thrown in. I am at odds with the Big Book of Monsters excerpts. I really like them as an adult reader, especially as they start to get philosophical, which is why I would recommend the book as a middle grade read, or as a read-aloud for a family with a child dealing with looking different. Sophie’s story will touch hearts of all ages, her insecurities are shared by all (normal humans and monsters alike).
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What an inspirational and empowering little book!  Sophie is such a smart, young girl! I think every grade schooler 4th grade up should read this book. Everyone has something that someone, somewhere can ridicule, Sophie has found brilliant way to combat them. I like strong heroines in children's books.  The light the way for others! Good story on dealing with bullies and accepting differences.
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I loved everything about this book.  Wendy Swore knocks it out of the park with this one.  Sophie has a hemangioma on her face.  The book details her trials and tribulations having a hemangioma.  Because of it, she feels she is a monster and sees monsters everywhere.  I have never read a book like this before.  There is definitely a need for it!  I would use it as a read aloud in grade three.  The book is for fans of Wonder and Out of My Mind.  I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley.  However, I feel this book would have been better devoured in print copy form.  I look forward to rereading it.
Excellent, emotional story.  5 stars!
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A Monster Like Me
by Wendy S. Swore
Shadow Mountain Publishing
Shadow Mountain
Children's Fiction
Pub Date 05 Mar 2019

I am reviewing a copy of A Monster Like Me through Shadow Mountain Publishing and Netgalley:

Thanks to her Big Book of Monsters as well as a vivid imagination Sophie is an expert on monsters.  She can clearly identify the monsters in her school and neighborhood, bullies are trolls and goblins.  She thinks of her nice neighbor as a good witch and her new best friend is a fairy.  Sophie sees herself as a monster too because she has a monster mark on her face, that’s what she calls it, the doctors and her Mom call it a blood tumor.  Sophie does her best to hide it, but the mark covers almost half of her face.  She feels that if she looks like a monster on the outside, she must also be a monster on the inside.

Sophie knows being the new kid in school is hard, but when others look at you like you’re a monster is even harder.  Sophie is sure that in just a matter of time her other kids, her doctors and even her Mom will figure it all out, and then they will her just like her Dad did, because no one will want to live with a monster.

I give A Monster Like Me five out of five stars!

Happy Reading
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