That’s why we moved to Monster Grove.
My dad’s an accountant—a very good one. And when the monsters asked my dad to come work for them, he said, “What an interesting opportunity.”
“It will be a wonderful cultural experience for the children,” said my mom. “Just think of the friends they’ll make.”
“Ooh! Mon-stuhs!” said my baby sister, Barbara. We call her Boo.
“The monsters will eat us!” I said. “They’ll suck our blood and boil us in vats and haunt us.”
“I made them put a clause in my contract that says they won’t eat my family,” said Dad.
“What about boiling in vats?” I asked. “What about haunting? What about sucking blood?”
“Amelia,” Mom said, “I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about. I’m sure they’re all very, very nice. And even if they’re not, just make sure you always have cookies with you. I’m sure monsters would rather eat cookies than kids.”
Sure. A pack of hungry monsters are bearing down on you and then they stop for a cookie? Well, maybe one of Mom’s cookies. They’re delicious. But even so, monsters probably like cookies made out of dead toads,
spider webs, and rotten guts—not Mom’s cookies.
As we drove toward our new home, the sky grew darker, the trees reached out their branches at stranger angles, and a mist rose from the road.
We passed a sign that read, “Welcome to Monster Grove. Population: Alive, 64; Dead, 142.”
“Looks like they’ll have to change the number for the living population,” Dad said.
“I hope that’s the number they change,” I said.
We weaved through narrow lanes, up gloomy avenues, and around a corner.
Then Dad stopped the car and said, “Here we are!”
I looked at our new house.
I felt the blood drain from my face and ducked down in my seat.
The house looked just fine.
It was what was in front of the house that frightened me.
They must have heard we were coming and were going to eat us.
Mom, Dad, and Boo got out of the car and went over to meet the monsters.
I decided to stay in the car and hide until Dad decided we should move back to reality. Or until the monsters ate them, whichever came first. I was pretty sure I could drive the car.
The car door opened.
The monsters had come to eat me!
I waited for their teeth to bite into me.
“YIKES!” I screamed. A hand had gripped my arm.
“Come on, dear.” It was Mom. “There are some very nice people I’d like you to meet.”
“They are not people; they’re monsters,” I whispered.
Mom pulled. I pulled back.
Mom let go, and another arm reached in. It was small and soft and cute.
“Mon-stuh?” she said.
How could I say no?
I held her hand and got out of the car.
I let Boo lead me to the crowd of scary things.
A fairly normal-looking man came up to me and shook my hand. “Welcome to Monster Grove!” he said. “I’m Werewolf.”
“You look very clean-shaven for a werewolf,” Dad said, and then he laughed.
“There’s no full moon,” I said.
“Smart kid!” Werewolf said. “This is how I norm-ally look, but you should see me when there is a full moon. I’m one handsome canine!” He laughed.
The next one to greet us was a mummy. He was already holding Boo. Nobody could resist Boo. “Glad you’re here,” the mummy said. “We really need your help. I hope you like your place. I haven’t been inside yet, but I hear it’s nice.”
A bony hand reached out next. And when I say bony, I mean just bones. My eyes followed the arm to its owner. A skeleton!
I jumped back.
“My name is Skeleton,” he said. “Do you have any dogs?”
“No,” I said.
The next monster to introduce himself was big and knobby with hair in all the wrong places.
“Welcome,” he said. “Glad meet you. Me Ogre. We be friends.”
“Sorry we’re late,” a voice said from behind us. It was a witch. Actually there were two witches: a big witch and a little witch that looked like her daughter.
“Kids are hard to get ready, aren’t they?” I said.
“How did you know that?” the big witch asked.
“Her shoes are on the wrong feet,” I said. “And she’s still wearing her pajamas under her dress.” Dad had taught me to notice the little things.
“Smart kid!” the big witch said. “It took me forever to get Little Witch ready. She hates going out, you know. Of course you don’t know. But now you do.” She shook our hands. Little Witch ignored us and began playing games with Boo.
I felt a cold chill go through me.
“Sorry about that,” a voice said. A form appeared in front of me. “Sometimes the easiest way past someone is right through them. My name’s Ghost.”
I could have guessed that.
“And who’s this handsome fellow?” Mom asked. She cleared her way through the crowd and went up to . . . something. I wasn’t sure what it was. It looked like a huge blob of pudding that had been dumped out of its bowl.
“Blurp!” it said.
“Well nice to meet you, Mr. Blob!” Mom said. She has a way of understanding anyone.
Mr. Blob oozed around Mom and hugged her legs.
By then we had met everyone, or everything, unless one of the trees or rocks was a monster, too.
We chatted with our new neighbors. I was surprised at how quickly I got used to them. I was talking about my last school to Skeleton, and it felt perfectly natural until I remembered that we had something that looked just like him in our science room.
“I don’t want to interrupt a good time,” said Werewolf, “but our new neighbors are probably tired, and we should let them settle in.”
“You’ve been very nice,” Mom said. “It’s so wonderful to make new friends this quickly. Before you all leave, I know that some of you would like to see the
inside of our new home. Who’d like to accompany me on my first trip through the house?”
Every monster raised his/her/its hand/paw/ tentacle. Mom led the way.
In the entrance, she stopped and looked at the floor.
“My, my!” she said.
Muddy prints went down the hall.
“Unforgivable,” said Werewolf. “These weren’t here when I arrived. We’ll clean these up right away. And while we’re at it, we’ll be happy to dust and straighten pictures.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it,” Mom said. “I’ll take care of it in the morning.”
Mummy leaned over and whispered to me, “Werewolf is a clean freak. It drives the rest of us nuts sometimes, but his house does look very nice.”
We followed the prints to the kitchen. There, at the end of the prints, was a huge basket of goodies sitting on the table. Lots of chocolate, cookies, a doll for Boo, lots more chocolate, some hot chocolate . . . Someone had figured out what we liked.
“What a nice gift,” Mom said. “Thank you all!”
“It wasn’t me,” Skeleton said. “But I wish it had been. And I wish I had a digestive system again so I could eat chocolate.”
“So,” said Mom, “it must have been one of you. Come on. Who brought us this wonderful gift? I want to give them a hug.”
No one spoke.
I knew I shouldn’t say anything because an anonymous gift is a good thing, but I knew who had given the basket, and I liked them. And I knew Mom gave great hugs.
I decided to tell.
“Mom, I know who you owe a big hug.”
Who was the nice, sweet monster who filled our home with chocolate?
ANSWER: The giver, the one who made the muddy prints was not Mr. Blob or Ghost (they don’t make prints). Werewolf is too clean to make such a mess. Mummy hadn’t been in the house. Skeleton said he didn’t bring a gift. And the two witches arrived late. That left . . .
Ogre, who got a great big hug.