________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 34 . . . . May 7, 2010


Gracie Meets the Sock Monster.

Geeta Bagga. Illustrated by Aylin Basar.
Bloomingham, IN: Xlibris Corporation (Orders@Xlibris.com), 2009.
23 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 978-1-4415-8606-3.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

** /4


Gracie wanted to wear her favorite pair of socks to school. When she looked through her dresser drawer, she could only find one of her purple and green socks. “Where is the other one?” she wondered.

At one time or another, most of us have put a pair of dirty socks into the wash pile only to have just one sock emerge after the pair has supposedly gone through the washing and drying process. As we gaze upon the single sock, many of us, unable to account logically for the missing sock, attribute its absence to the actions of some kind of washing machine or dryer gremlin who, for unknown reasons, collects just single socks.

     It is this missing sock situation that author Geeta Bagga addresses, albeit not entirely successfully, in Gracie Meets the Sock Monster. As the excerpt indicates, Gracie cannot find one sock from her favourite pair of socks, but, recalling that the last time she saw both socks was when her father was putting them into the clothes dryer, Gracie heads to the laundry room where she peers into the dryer.

When the clothes stop tumbling, Gracie spots something else in the dryer - something alive.

It looked like a monster! It was a furry ball with two big wide eyes and two of the longest arms she had ever seen, It also had many feet, one of which was wearing her purple and green sock.

     Despite her initial fear, Gracie decides that she must recover her sock and enters the dryer to confront the Sock Monster, shrinking in size as she does so. However, as the Sock Monster disappears through “a secret door” in the dryer, the dryer door slams shut ad Gracie is tumbled about before being flung through the Sock Monster’s secret exit door and falling down a tunnel, ultimately emerging in a sock room. There, Gracie demands the return of her sock form the Sock Monster who says that her “sock smells too yummy to give back.” Apparently the sock monster wears the pretty ones and eats the yummy ones while “throw[ing] back the boring ones.” Distracting the Sock Monster with what Gracie claims is a “much yummier sock,” she grabs her now abandoned purple and green sock, and, after stuffing “as many yummy, pretty and boring socks into her pockets as she could,” Gracie escapes out of the sock room and runs into the living room where she finds her mother who is surprised by all the missing socks.

internal art

     Though Bagga’s text is brief, it could still have been tightened as she frequently “tells” when “showing” would have been much more reader engaging. For example, the closing sentence on p. 5 reads: “Gracie poked her head inside the dryer and after the clothes had stopped tumbling, she saw something else...something alive!” However, the page-turning suspense that Bagga has just generated is immediately dissipated when one reads the first line on the following page that “tells”: “It looked like a monster!” Bagga then goes on to provide a physical description of these creature [“It was a furry ball with two big wide eyes and two of the longest arms she had ever seen. It also had many feet, one of which was wearing her purple and green sock.”] before concluding, “That must be the Sock Monster” Omitting the page’s opening sentence would have allowed readers to draw their own conclusions as to what was in the dryer. [As an aside, Basar’s illustration on p. 7 also takes away from the suspense of Bagga’s text as Basar reveals too much of the Sock Monster.]

     In the main, Bagga’s sentence structure is appropriate to her intended young audience, but she has one most awkward sentence that never would have come out of the mouth of a preschooler: “Gasping, Gracie whispered to herself, ‘That must be the Sock Monster!’...the creature that many have spoken of but few have ever seen.”

     Bagga has also not dealt with the “logic” behind some of her plot elements. Now, I know the story is a fantasy, but readers are being asked to suspend belief while entering an “unreal” world, and the genre demands that the author make that world internally believable. Consequently, readers might wonder: What caused Gracie to shrink when she entered the dryer? When did she return to normal size? Who closed the dryer door and turned the dryer back on? Given that the socks have gone through the washing process and are just being dried, how can some clean socks (and only one of each pair) now smell more yummy than others to the Sock Monster? If there is a door between the ‘sock room’ and the living room, why has no one every been there before? While the book ends with a surprise, that surprise seems disconnected from everything that has come before.

     Basar’s comic-like, full–page illustrations are appropriate to the story’s tone, and her green, bug-eyed, multi-legged Sock Monster is actually quite cute and will not likely be seen by young readers to be in the least frightening. Although Bagga’s text talks about Gracie’s sliding down a dark tunnel, Basar’s illustrations show not a tunnel but an orange slide, one much like those found in many school playgrounds.

Recommended with reservations.

Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.