Harriet “Ari” Hairstein wants to be a monsterologist when she grows up, but when she has to give a presentation in monsterology class, she panics. Even though she’ll be talking about her favorite animal, the manglemane lion, when she thinks about speaking in public, she can’t breathe, her stomach hurts, and her heart pounds. Ari is plagued by catastrophic thinking and nightmares until her friends Marvin and Timmy, each of whom tackled their own troubles in previous Monster Diaries (ADHD and screen addiction, respectively), offer to help her with ST4 strategies, or STOP: Take Time To Think. The book emulates a Diary of a Wimpy Kid design, with lined pages, faux hand-printed typeface, and kidlike line drawings. Helpful backmatter includes a parents’ guide with activities for alleviating stress and anxiety in children and instructions on how to use co-author Melmed’s ST4 program. A wide array of monster types populates Ari’s world. There are clues that Ari’s loving family is Jewish: Bobbe (her grandmother) is similar to the Yiddish Bubbe, and Harriet’s nickname, “Ari,” means lion in Hebrew; immigrant Bobbe is possibly Polish (she makes a lot of borscht, or in their case, roarscht, and pierogis).
Readers who experience anxiety will undoubtedly identify with—and hopefully find comfort in—Ari’s story. (Fantasy. 7-11)