My review of childrens book Jaxon and the Naughty Secret Monster by Madeline M. Pratchler
Jaxon’s enthusiasm for the simplest things bubbles out of him, and ideas continually pop out of his very large brain. His delight in helping plant the garden with his family creates a magical learning opportunity, and he’s well on his way to being as smart as his dad. But sometimes his zest needs to be clamped down, and his blurting embarrasses others.
When Dad shares a surprise for Mom, Jaxon discovers the secret monster: a naughty guy who lives inside him, waiting to blab as soon as his mouth opens. Jaxon swallows him down and tells him to be quiet inside his head, but will that monster listen? And what about the next time when Jaxon plots a prank on the ice cream man?
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Excerpt from Jaxon and the Naughty Secret Monster
Our family gathered at the garden’s edge the next morning. Bossy and Pepper eagerly and curiously sniffed and circled around the garden.
I could feel the sun get more powerful all the time – it was much warmer than even a few weeks ago. I wondered why we only have one sun. Spring would come much quicker if we had two. But maybe it would get too hot then. And then maybe we wouldn’t have night anymore and I kind of liked cozy evenings with the lamp on and Mom reading to us. Yeah, I decided, one sun is probably enough.
The garden looked soft. Super soft and squishy. I pulled off my boots so my feet were naked and I could feel the earth’s coolness between my toes. Dad put a shovel into the rich black earth and I saw a squiggly pink worm.
“Are those potato snakes?” I asked excitedly.
“Nope! Earthworms. Earthworms are good,” Dad explained. “They eat the bad bugs, eat the peelings and stuff Mom throws in here, make tunnels in the ground so roots can breathe, lots of things. Even their poop helps.”
“Earthworm poop would be pretty tiny!” I looked over that wide garden and wondered aloud, “Just how much could one earthworm poop anyway?”
Dad laughed. “Well, I hope there’s more than one! I hope it’s more like … a couple hundred? That would make all the difference.”
I was amazed to think that so many worms might share our yard and garden. What else could be living in our ground that I hadn’t even thought of yet? Maybe even dinosaur bones!
I looked up at Dad’s head and I saw tears dripping off it. He wiped it away with a sleeve, but more tears replaced them. He saw me watching and smiled.
“I’m hot!” he said. “What a great feeling, after a long winter of being cold. So, working up a sweat is most welcome!”
As he worked, more tears came and his forehead made stripes under his hat every time he pushed the shovel into the ground. I pushed up my eyebrows and felt my forehead, but I don’t think I had stripes like that. Maybe that just happens to grown-ups.
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Review of Jaxon and the Naughty Secret Monster
This was very cute. I enjoyed Jaxon’s kid observations and way of looking at the world. The garden was a nice way to show his family and him learning, and his relationship with his brother felt genuine. Boys getting up to trouble and having fun—authentic.
This was such a short book, and it was really just adorable. I don’t have too much to say other than give it a try and give it to your kids to read. So before I start spoiling things, I’ll stop. Perhaps less truly is more sometimes. 😊
About Madeline M. Pratchler
As a young child, Madeline Pratchler was always telling stories, and as she grew she wrote stories and poetry, falling more and more in love with words, ideas, learning, reading and music. She is an accomplished musician on the organ and piano, and not so accomplished on the violin (yet!). A prairie girl through and through, she delights in big skies, clouds, horizons, fruit trees, and her garden. She lives in Humboldt, Saskatchewan, with her husband and their four children. Jaxon and the Naughty Secret Monster is her first book.
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