Book Review: The Jumble Sale (Adventures of the Misfit Monsters Book 1) by Lily Rose – 3 stars

The Jumble Sale, by Lily Rose is the sweet story of a number of misfit monsters who find themselves in a predicament. The protagonist, Zadi (who is part fairy, part zombie and a little bit robot) leads the charge to help them overcome their struggle: they depend upon deliveries to the junkyard for their survival and there have been no deliveries from the humans in quite some time! Faced with a motley collection of misfit monsters (with as many diverse personalities as they have body parts), an overbearing mayor and a threat to the community’s well-being, Zadi is forced to come up with a way to get everyone to work together in way that will allow them all to survive. Enter the Jumble Sale!

Rose has written a book that will appeal to middle grade and younger readers with its collection of misfit monsters who are made up of all kinds of characters. None of them are particularly scary, although the mayor is a bit of brute! The story doesn’t explore how these monsters came to be or why they live in and survive on the goods from a junkyard but it does paint a picture of a race of very small creatures who have built their own society and are existing on the cast-offs of humans.

While the rules of society for the misfit monsters have generally worked well for them in the past, the mayor’s regulations about when and how monsters can hunt in the junkyard for needed goods begin to rub when the number of deliveries dwindles to zero. Monsters begin to fight with one another and their ‘each monster for his/herself’ mentality begins to become part of the problem.

Zadi, who isn’t much for following the rules in the first place, realizes that something must be done to change the rules…but she has no real power or influence to do so and continues to have run-ins with the Mayor who punishes her for pushing the boundaries. With the help of a number of friends, Zadi comes up with a solution for the misfit monsters problem: rather than continue to fight for dwindling resources, the monsters will engage in a jumble sale where they can trade items amongst themselves. The sale will allow everyone access to the items that they need while teaching each monster how to assign and attribute value to what they make and trade.

Some lessons in the story are straightforward: Rose shows young readers that, by working together, the misfit monsters are much better off than they were when they were each fighting for themselves. Others, however, are a bit more subtle (and these were some of my favorites): In watching Zadi and her friends work with their neighbors, young readers learn a great deal about what it’s like to try to gain consensus amongst a very disperate group of people. (The subcomittee meeting that is held to determine when hunting should be allowed reminds me of the world’s worst ever PTA meeting!) Insight abounds into what it takes to get people to cooperate…listening skills, the ability to convince others and the willingness to engage in trade-offs are all part of the process!

Finally, a subtle lesson about being willing to stick your neck out for the good of the group is embedded in the story. Zadi is expected to fall in line and the misfit monsters’ society doesn’t initially value sacrifice for the greater good. But being a bit of a rebel and seeing a problem that needs to be resolved, Zadi goes forward with speaking out and standing up in front of her peers to make a change. In the end, she’s able to save the day and we see that there is value in stepping forward even when it’s scary.

I really enjoyed Rose’s depictions of the misfit monsters and the occasional character illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. The writing is occasionally off-putting…some of the grammar used is awkward and certain words are repeated unnecessarily. (How many times do we need to read the words hessian sack? What is a hessian sack? Oh! It’s a burlap bag? Ok…still. Isn’t it just a sack? Do I really need to read that it’s hessian 15 times?) I can’t be sure, but I almost felt as if the writing might have been done in the author’s second language…it was just a little stilted in places and I couldn’t seem to grasp why.

Overall, however, I was charmed by Rose’s story of Zadi and her misfit monster friends. At 84 pages, it’s a quick read with a storyline that moves along in an endearing and easy-to-follow way. Young readers will be enchanted with Zadi and her rebellious ways and amused by the cast of characters that make up her friends and neighbors. There’s something to be said for a story that can entertain while it imparts a lesson…The Jumble Sale is able to do that and more. Young readers will finish this book eagerly looking forward to the misfit monsters next adventure!

To order your own copy of The Jumble Sale (Adventures of the Misfit Monsters Book One) by Lily Rose, click the link below:

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