Fredericton author Paul McAllister is gearing up for the release of the second book in his series about the Herman the Monster, A New Song for Herman. The story takes on currently relevant, real-world themes like not letting fear mask the truth and not reacting before learning the facts. Paul’s playful writing and the quirky and adorable illustrations of Toronto-based artist Emily Brown (originally from Chipman, New Brunswick) work perfectly together to portray this message in a fun and lighthearted story that everyone can enjoy.
Paul’s influences, Sheree Fitch and Robert Munch—two Canadian children’s authors who shaped most, if not all of our childhoods—are apparent throughout the story in the form of catchy repetitions and endearing language use. These traits, along with the bright, lively and adorably-edgy illustrations, make reading the story fun and memorable.
“A somewhat harsh reality today is that a lot of the news content is very much fear driven. […] It can be a pretty scary world out there, and often times that fear and prejudice is completely unwarranted,” says Paul on the underlying theme of the story. “What it comes down to is not everything you hear about someone you haven’t met is true, and facing our fears can lead to great things.”
Using the legend of the “attic monster” and some spooky nighttime sounds as the symbols for fear-driven, misunderstood news content, the story tells us how Herman and his friend Carpet team up to conquer their fears and set the story straight. The best part about the theme of this story is that it’s not just a good lesson for kids; it’s a good lesson for adults, too. We shouldn’t always believe everything we hear, and we shouldn’t react before learning the facts.
Only two books into the series, Herman is already becoming a well-developed and familiar character. We already know where he works, who his friends are, how independent he can be and, of course, his favourite mochaccino flavour. In the first book, we saw his transformation from an under-the-bed House Monster to a Street Monster and finally to a social Barista Monster. Now, in the new book, Herman shows us his independence, his problem-solving skills and his ability to rise above the crowd. He is, without a doubt, an easily loveable monster who we can all see a bit of ourselves in and who we could all learn a thing or two from.
The other influences for the book include an earlier trip to Europe in search of all things unexplained and “pretty much anything involving monsters from the 90s.” For a person who grew up obsessed with all things monster, it’s no surprise to us that Paul incorporated them into his writing.
Published by Paul’s own Monster House Publishing, A New Song for Herman is available for preorder now at monsterhousepublishing.com and at Indigo books. If you’re in Fredericton, you can catch the book’s soft launch at Westminister Books on September 30th or the official launch party at the Fredericton Public Library on October 14th. Hardcopy versions of the book will be available early October.