The Thing at 52

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Pub Date Jul 18 2023 | Archive Date Oct 01 2023

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Spark meaningful discussions about loneliness, friendship, community, and coping with loss with this enchantingly illustrated story about a girl who befriends a monster.

There’s a Thing on my street.
He lives at number 52.
I see him sitting in his front yard when I walk to school.

He was big and lumbering and a wore a tiny top hat perched on top of his rather large head. She didn’t think he had any friends, so she brought him a flower.
It wasn’t long before their friendship bloomed…the Thing was gentle and kind and the adventures they went on were the best she could ever imagine.

The girl soon discovered that there were many Things, living all over the place…which gave her an idea. She invited them all to a party, and the Things danced till midnight. Thing had never felt so happy.

But one day the Thing had to go and their adventures came to an end.
All Things have to go sometime

In this poignant story, discover how small acts of kindness can grow into great friendships, and how the community you build from those friendships can provide comfort and companionship when you need it most.

Written by the beloved children’s author Ross Montgomery, and illustrated by the incredible Richard Johnson, The Thing at 52 offers a comfortable starting point for discussing difficult topics with children. The book’s magic will draw you back again and again.
Spark meaningful discussions about loneliness, friendship, community, and coping with loss with this enchantingly illustrated story about a girl who befriends a monster.

There’s a Thing on my street.

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780711279162
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

Available on NetGalley

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Average rating from 65 members

Featured Reviews

I love this one. I bawled my eyes out reading it. It is a beautiful touching story about all those serendipitous meetings we have in our lives. It teaches children to be kind and to accept that it is the length of life but the richness of its content that matters.

And the illustration has a very dreamy feel to it. I love it, absolutely love it!

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Beautifully illustrated, with the perfect colors and mood. Explores themes such as loss, grief, friendship, moving on, growing up, and community. I love the details of the illustrations and the character design.

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This is a good look at loneliness and making friends. And then looks at loss and grief and how we can help our children deal with those emotions.
Lovely illustrations too. I enjoyed this one and I think children will too.

Thanks NetGalley for this ARC.

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The Thing at 52 by Ross Montgomery.
There’s a Thing on my street.
He lives at number 52.
I see him sitting in his front yard when I walk to school.
He was big and lumbering and a wore a tiny top hat perched on top of his rather large head. She didn’t think he had any friends, so she brought him a flower.
This was a good read. Great illustrations. Loved the quick story. 5*.

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The art drew me to this children’s book but the story made it even better. It’s beautiful in every way and gently talks about love and loss in a way kids and adults can relate to. I love the thing and miss my own.

I read a temporary digital review copy of this book via NetGalley.

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“All things are lonely sometimes”
I moved a lot as a child so this one really hit home for me. I see this as a book where you either relate to the narrator, or you relate to the Thing she befriended. Sometimes you are the one that leaves, sometimes you are the one being left. And loneliness can grow from either situation.
This story puts a positive spin on this, while still acknowledging the emotional difficulties of being alone. I really enjoyed how this story portrayed how friendship does not bow to appearances, but the bonds created amongst people over gestures of kindness and attempts to spread love and joy.

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Thus was such a simple book with a powerful message about friendship and kindness. One little girl made a difference to so many 'Things' . We can learn a lot from her.

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“There’s a Thing on my street. He lives at number 52.”

The narrator is a young child, maybe ten or twelve, who walks to school every day past the Thing’s house. In the first picture we can see a big, soft, grey shape in a garden, and on the crosswalk at the very edge of the page is the child and the mother.

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“I see him sitting in his front yard when I walk to school.”

The child is worried. The thing seems to be all alone at home and when out shopping.

“I don’t think he has any friends.”

And that’s where a lot of us would leave it, right? We’d say what a pity, and go about our lives. Not this youngster. They ask ‘Mom’ if they could buy the Thing a flower. It was a hit!

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“ ‘Come inside,’ he said. ‘I was just about to have a cup of gravy.’ ”

In the picture, we can just see mom outside the gate, letting the child and the Thing get acquainted, but keeping an eye on the interaction. Not only a cup of gravy is on the menu, but the Thing has a fridge full of jars of mustard!

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“ ‘Don’t you get lonely living by yourself?’ I asked him.
‘All things are lonely sometimes,’ said the Thing.”

Children don’t like lonely, so this kid starts to visit, sit outside, go on the train, take excursions with the Thing. Mom doesn’t seem to be along on these outings. One day, as they’re sitting out in the open somewhere, they look up.

High in the sky, another Thing is floating!

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“ ‘Where is it going?’” I asked.
‘Who knows?’ said the Thing.
‘But all Things have to go sometime.’”

The child asks if there are more Things in the world. Of course. Hundreds! That sparks an idea, so the child writes out invitations, Mom makes the Thing have a bath, and the party is on! All the Things have tiny hats, and Mom is rocking out in the top left corner, too.

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“The Things danced till midnight and drank all the gravy.”

It was a great success. They wander outside to sit under the stars and the Thing says thank you for the party. The child wants to plan one for next year, okay?

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“But the Thing didn’t say anything.
Suddenly he looked very old.
And then I realized what was happening.
‘No,’ I said.
‘All things have to go sometime,’ said the Thing sadly.”

My Goodreads review shows an illustration with the caption:
“The Thing hugged me. The wind blew through the trees, and he was gone.”

That is the Thing’s tiny hat sitting near the feet of the child. Unbelievably sad.

Life goes on. Mom and the child clean up the Thing’s house and reminisce about the fun and adventures they had. Then a young family with a baby move in. The Thing would have liked that, thinks the child.

In the last picture, we see the child happily playing board games with more Things, everyone enjoying afternoon drinks that Mom is bringing.

I’ve included so many pictures to show how universal this story can be. The advertising blurbs speak of a little girl and a monster. I don’t think the child is necessarily a little girl. In one illustration, the corner of the backpack looks pink, but that’s it.

We don’t really know anything about the child – the age, gender, ethnicity, or culture. We assume it’s North America because the mother is Mom. Mom is in overalls and a tee-shirt, looking more modern than agricultural, but we can’t really tell her ethnicity either.

Whether or not this was intentional, I think this makes this story accessible for many families and children. The faces and hair could be from different backgrounds, and with people from all over the world moving to countries that are foreign to them, I think this a wonderful way to make sure that many young readers could see themselves in this story.

The topics are serious ones – “others”, difference, inclusion, empathy, loss, grief – it covers a lot of territory, and it deserves to capture the attention of the public. I hope it does.

The illustrations are magnificent. Thanks to NetGalley and Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for the copy for review.

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A lovely picture book about random acts of kindness, friendship & loss. Would definitely recommend for use in Nurture settings & by ELSAs.

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Even thought The Thing at 52 is such a short book it delivered a powerful message. This a lovely way to explore friendships, what it means to be a neighbour and how to cope with loss.

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A beautiful, beautiful book. Stunningly illustrated, it's a powerful exploration of love and loss. The art is so tender - absolutely love those colours, the softness and sensitivity, and the dream-like quality of the book.

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"Don't you get lonely living by yourself?" I asked him. "All things are lonely sometimes," said the Thing.

Although this book is only 40 pages long, it leaves a punch I did not expect.

Highly recommend it if you are dealing with grief or need to explain to your children where our loved ones have gone once they've passed away and if you are trying to move on... it deals with this topic very delicately, and it will make you cry once you realise what the story is all about.

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With warm, comforting illustrations and gentle prose, Montgomery offers an unexpected take on the concept of an imaginary friend. While the Thing, a fluffy gray character with a fondness for mustard, initially appears to be a figment of the protagonist's imagination, we soon find both the protagonist and her mother visiting the Thing in his home, suggesting that he may be real after all. After a series of charming adventures and a gathering with many other Things, the protagonist learns that she must part with the Thing. This heartwarming story not only sparks the imagination, but also offers a model for coping with loss and being apart from loved ones. This is sure to be an immediate classroom read-aloud and bedtime story favorite and we will be adding it to our library collection just as soon as it's available.

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A girl reaches out to a large, lonely monster with a simple act of kindness—a flower. As their bond strengthens, they create memories filled with joy. The girl introduces the monster to other creatures in the neighbourhood. However, as time passes, the monster grows old and eventually has to leave. The community, created by the girl, provides comfort during this loss.

In The Thing at 52, friendship, community, loneliness, and coping with loss are woven together, showing how kindness and acceptance can bridge differences, build connections, and provide comfort during times of change.

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A kind and cozy tale of friendship and loss with beautiful and cute illustrations and a soothing color palette with a lot of tiny details to rest your eyes on.

thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing the ARC.

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I received this ARC through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Thing at 52 is such a lovely read. I was impressed that the mother went into the house with her, as going into a strangers house alone is wrong. The kindness this story displayed is wonderful.

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When a young girl notices a Thing lives on her street, her interests are piqued. Alongside her mother, she visits the creature and learns of its unique lifestyle and isolation. Noting its need for friendship, she takes it upon herself to rally a community for the Thing, but as the evening winds down a heart-breaking reality disrupts her world. When she is left to experience the same loneliness the Thing had dealt with, she is faced with a choice to shield herself from loss or share in the comfort and knowledge of others.

Featuring Richard Johnson’s stunning illustrations, The Thing at 52 is a tale of loneliness, acceptance, loss, and community. While Ross Montgomery’s plot is imaginative and magical for any empathetic child, it is especially poignant for those who have befriended elders in their community and anyone who has lost of a friend.

Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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A girl befriends a lonely monster that lives in her neighborhood. Her and the monster go on adventures. She introduces the monster to other monsters. The monster grows old and has to go away. The story deals with friendship, differences, acceptance, loneliness and change. The illustrations were beautiful.

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The Thing at 52 by Ross Montgomery & Richard Johnson is a beautiful, charming story of friendship, loss and learning to say good-bye.
There’s a strange Thing living in the neighbourhood. Who is it? What is it? Why is it so alone? When a little girl decides to reach out in kindness (with the help of her mother), everything begins to change. The warmth of community and sharing of adventures radiates from the page through the gorgeous, soft illustrations. Eventually, when the Thing has to leave, memories and sadness fill the space where it once was. The girl must learn that all Things have to go sometimes. As life moves on, others will come along but they’ll never replace the ones we’ve lost. There is room for all Things.
The Thing at 52 is a lovely way to explore inter-generational friendships, being a neighbour and how to cope with loss. With scope for so much discussion, young children will love chatting about the Thing while making connections to their own experiences and developing empathy for those who have felt lonely or lost someone close to them.

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This was much sadder than I had expected going in??
I loved how it dealt with loss in such a delicate way, yet still packed a punch - a literal punch in my guts. Lovely.

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This is a stunningly illustrated picture book about loneliness, kindness and loss.

The little girl in the story notices ‘A Thing’ in one of the houses in her neighbourhood. She befriends the Thing to help him overcome his loneliness. We learn that there are lots of other Things in the world and the girl throws them a lovely party.

At the end of the story the Thing must leave and a new family move onto his house. The girl remembers the happy memories every time she passes and learns that eventually the good times and happiness shared start to lessen the weight of her grief and loss.

Initially I spent a short while pondering if the Thing is an imaginary friend, but then I realised it’s not important and the ambiguity allows the Thing to represent many aspects of a child’s life that may not be typically represented in a book or even thought of as difficult to let go of and that makes this a truly special book.

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Visually stunning and full of emotional punches. This majestic blend of illustrations from Richard Johnson and the story from Ross Montgomery gives the reader an explosion of emotions, just like any true friendship.

It’s exquisite.

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This was so beautiful and way more sad than I expected it to be!
The story and drawing style gave me a really cozy and dreamy vibe. I would definitely read more (picture) books with that kind of style and vibe.
You should definitely pick his up if you are looking for a picture book about friendship and grief.

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What a great story and illustrations. I was struck by the girl and the Thing's friendship, and I wasn't expecting the climax to be so moving 😭

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Major indicator that this is a great story: The moment it ended my kiddos (5 & 7) immediately asked if we could read it again. This is a beautiful story about kindness, community, and friendship. We enjoyed watching their friendship blossom and grow. The illustrations were so well done. The story was well written. We just really liked this book.

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It’s a wonderful story of loss, friendship, empathy, growth and kindness. The illustrations by Richard Johnson are just exquisite. I love The Thing - he seems like a wonderful friend to go in adventures with. This is sad, but filled with love.

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The art illustrations is lovely in this children’s picture book. It is a gentle story about making a new friend and loss. You can relate it to making friends, acts of kindness and the sadness when someone leaves or moves away. It could even be used to gently discuss death (not mentioned) or other changes in life. Reading this I thought about this being the last week of school and children I’ve known since kindergarten are moving on to middle school and I may never see them again. Short and easy to read. Thank you to NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group - Frances Lincoln Children’s Book for the temporary ARC. I am leaving a voluntary review.

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Adorable children's books about loss, loneliness and being a good neighbor and friend. Beautiful pictures. Would highly recommend.

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This was a beautifully illustrated book of love, acceptance, and coping with loss. The illustrations are beautiful and the characters are completely loveable. This was a great children's book that I hope to sell in my shop!

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A compassionate daughter-mother duo befriend the Thing that lives at No. 52 on their street, and their adventures will delight readers of every age. This picture book will open doors to conversations about making and being a friend and about appreciating people — and Things — despite their differences.

In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book from NetGalley and Quarto Publishing Group – Frances Lincoln Children's Books.

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What an amazing book for helping children to explore a whole range of big feelings that we will all experience at some point in our lives. It is absolutely a book that would be perfect for an adult and child to share together to start one of those tricky conversations that need to be had but which are often difficult to start. I loved the relationship between the two main characters which developed as a result of a simple act of kindness. The gorgeous illustrations complement the story perfectly and the colours in them change as the story evolves.

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Reminding me a little of Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are? and one of our favourite picture books, The Queen on Our Corner by Lucy Christopher and Nia Tudor, this is another picture book that has both incredible illustrations and a beautifully moving story. Focusing on the themes of loneliness, kindness, unlikely friendships, community and grief, it has so many layers you'll come away with something new each time you read it.

When a girl's small act of kindness blossoms into a beautuful friendship, a whole community of Things are brought together. But everyone has to go some time and when their friendship comes to an end, will the girl be able to move on?

This is an example of words and pictures working together in perfect harmony to create a Thing that is quite extraordinary. Told through the curious and kind eyes of a child, it will allow readers to explore topics with a gentle hand, rather than providing answers.

Everything about this book is beautifully understated. It's a story where what is not said is as important as what is and every word on every page has been crafted. The illustrations reminded me a lot of David Litchfield's work and is rich in both colour and heart. Ross Montgomery has created something truly moving here and this is a picture book we have taken to our hearts.

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I thought that this was a beautiful book with some truly perfect illustrations that really bought the story to life, they were some of the best I have seen in a children’s book for a long time and they really worked with the story to be soft and gentle

The story was easy to read and understand, I read it with my 5 year old daughter, or rather she read the book to me, and we really enjoyed it

She understood why there was sadness but really liked the ending and the way the book had progressed. It would be a great book to use to discuss loss and changes

It is 5 stars from me for this one – very highly recommended!

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This beautiful little children’s book broke my heart. But in a good way? The illustrations are so whimsical, tans the story is wholesome and sad all at the same time. I could see myself reading this to my son one day. Teaching him about making friends with unlikely people and coping with loss and the tough moments life can throw at you. Thank you NetGalley for the arc! ✨🌸

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Beautifully illustrated and beautifully written. This book draws you in with the illustrations and the opening line really hooks the reader right from the start. The story deals with friendship, grief, and loss in such a way that allows children to simply explore these feelings in a positive and loving manner.

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