Zombie in Love

Aww... isn't he cute?

I’m just going to put this out there – Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio and Scott Campbell might be one of the coolest picture books I’ve ever bought for my daughter. And it’s that great kind of cool where my daughter is really enamored with it – after our first reading, she loudly declared “Put that on my bookshelf NOW” – and I’m really into it too. Yes, it helps that one of my favorite artists of all time illustrated it, but, as a nerdy pop culture guy in his ‘30s, Zombie in Love speaks to a lot of my interests.

Now my daughter has her own definite areas of interest – princesses, astronomy, the music of Debbie Harry and David Bowie, words that rhyme with “poop” – and perhaps my favorite of her latest reoccupations is her growing interest in monsters.

That interest isn’t manifesting itself in a bad “terror-under-the-bed” way or in a cutesy “Sesame Street-making-monsters-safe” way. She’s just become very, very interested in traditional old-school monsters, and we have frequent conversations now about vampires, werewolves, mummies, and zombies, to name a few. And those are fun conversations to have. (They’re a lot more fun than debating if Jasmine or Belle is the prettiest.)

My daughter is a kid who’s prone to nightmares, so my wife and I spend a lot of time vetting what books, TV shows, or other various media forms may or may not be fodder for her potential night terrors. (I’ve come to accept that we’ll never see eye-to-eye on Scooby Doo. I’m pro, my wife is con.) This is a child who sleeps with nightlights, hates loud sounds, and refused to see 3D movies until two weeks ago. (Don’t even mention 4D movies to her. Oh, that was an ugly day at the zoo.)

But she isn’t afraid of traditional monsters. It’s like she was born with a respect for classic movie monsters, in particular, and has the voracious appetite for learning about Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, and, believe it or not, Godzilla. (She’s over-the-moon for Godzilla, so if anyone knows of any good picture books about kaiju or the giant monster genre, please send on your recommendations.)

So, like we vet potential nightmare material, my wife and I started vetting monster-related materials that might speak to her interest without totally freaking her out. Scooby Doo, in my opinion, can great media franchise for the monster-curious. (If your kid is up to it – some of the monsters can be a little freaky. And some SD series are MUCH better than others. My daughter and I are particularly big fans of Cartoon Network’s new Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated show.)

Nightmare Before Christmas costume

Monster-loving three-year-old girls are super, super cool.

There’s the Monster High dolls, which are really popular right now and… sigh, I guess they marry together the “princess” and “monster” interests for young girls and my daughter is besotted with them right now, but… why do their outfits have to come from the Czech prostitute fashion outlet? Their clothes are HORRIBLE. We let my daughter have one for her birthday – after months of pleading – but we insisted on picking out an “appropriate” one (i.e. had most of her clothes on) and that’s the only one she’s ever getting.

The monster property that clicked the most with my daughter is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. At first, I was afraid the movie would be too dark for her, so I started out showing her some YouTube clips and gauging her interest and comfort level. She got really comfortable really fast and instantly fell in love with both the movie and Burton’s very cool picture book version of his original poem. (When she was three, she went as Jack Skellington for Halloween and, let me tell you, they don’t make Jack costumes for three-year-old girls.) [read the rest of the post…]