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Literature / The Monster at the End of This Book

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Terrifying, isn't it?
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Grover: AHHH! Do not read this page, there is a scary monster at the end!

The Monster at the End of this Book is a classic 1971 Sesame Street picture book written by Jon Stone and illustrated by Mike Smollin. It consists entirely of Grover pleading with the reader, more and more desperately, to stop reading the book — because he's read the title page and is afraid to meet the monster.

In 1996, a sequel was published, titled Another Monster at the End of This Book, in which Grover is joined by Elmo. There, Grover again attempts to stop the reader from making it to the end of the book, while Elmo encourages the reader to continue reading. This has also been made into an app.

In 2020, an animated special based on the book, The Monster at the End of This Story, aired on HBO Max on October 29, available to stream on PBS Kids from March 7, 2022.

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It can be read here, and the sequel can be read here.

See We Are in a Book! (an entry in the Elephant & Piggie series) for another children's book with a similar narrative concept.


Tropes featured include:

  • Adaptation Amalgamation: The HBO adaptation is based on the first and second books. At the start Grover is alone trying to stop the story like in the first book until Elmo comes in to help him out like in Another Monster at the End of This Book.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: On the penultimate page, Grover, at this point completely out of options, pleads with the reader not to turn to the ending.
  • Animated Adaptation: October 2020 saw the release of an animated version of this book.
  • Adaptation Expansion: New plot elements include an in-universe progress bar which Grover employs to delay the story's end, eventually going back to the dinosaur era.
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  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Due to Grover's attempts to hold pages together with rope, nails, and bricks.
    Grover: Do you know that every time you turn another page, you not only get us closer to the MONSTER at the end of this book, but you make a terrible mess!
  • Berserk Board Barricade: Grover tries to stop the reader by making barricades. His first barricade is a bunch of ropes tying the pages together. His next barricade is a bunch of boards nailed to the pages. His third barricade is a brick wall. Because they're just illustrations in the book, they do nothing to stop the reader from turning the book's pages.
  • Bold Inflation: To help with demonstrating Grover's typical Large Ham style, his lettering regularly shifts. Not just bolded, but a multicolored balloonish script is used for some of his more histrionic moments.
  • Canon Foreigner: Abby Cadabby, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Rosita are added in the animated special, even though they weren't in the original book. Although Elmo did appear in the Sequel Another Monster at the End of This Book.
  • End-of-Series Awareness: Grover can tell that the end of the book is coming, and gets more and more frightened about it.
  • Face Palm: Grover puts his hand to his face when the reader doesn't listen to him and turns the page.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Grover warns the reader not to finish the book, as they will encounter a monster on the last page. He's right. This book is also a rare example where this trope is inverted. Grover keeps trying to stop the reader from turning pages, but the fourth wall does not protect him.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After spending most of the book terrified of the monster, Grover discovers that he's the monster and immediately admonishes the reader for being so afraid. At the very end, though:
    Grover: Oh, I am so embarrassed...
  • Large Ham: Much of Grover's dialogue is written in bold capitals, implying loud, hammy speech. A proper reading of the book to small children is far better if the reader hams it up.
  • Medium Awareness: Grover is completely aware that he is in a book, and with every page turn they are getting closer to the monster that is at the end. Heck, the reason he was alarmed in the first place is because he got a look at the cover.
  • Minimalist Cast: Nobody but Grover and the monster appear in the book. Of course, Grover IS the monster.
  • The Musical: In true Sesame Street fashion, the animated special features many songs sung by the characters.
  • No Fourth Wall: None whatsoever; Grover spends the entire book addressing the reader.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: In The Monster At the End of This Story, Grover admits that the real reason he's scared is because he doesn't know anything about the monster at the end of the story and not knowing is very scary to him. His friends all agree to meet him at the end and that way he'll have friends around to be there when he meets the monster.
  • Painting the Medium: Grover goes to greater and greater lengths to keep the reader from turning the page (as he's afraid of the monster at the end of the book). He ties the pages together, attempts to nail them down, and builds a brick wall, all to no avail.
  • Postmodernism: For 3-year-olds! It's even been compared to the work of Kurt Vonnegut.
  • Prophecy Twist: Grover is the monster.
  • Rule of Three: Grover makes three barricades in unsuccessful attempts to prevent the reader from reaching the end of the book. His first is tying the pages together with a bunch of ropes, his second is nailing a bunch of boards to the pages, and his third is building a brick wall. As they're all just illustrations in the book, they do nothing to prevent the reader from turning the pages.
  • Schmuck Bait: The very concept of the book: Grover tells you not to turn the pages, so that you'll want to turn the pages.
  • Snicket Warning Label: The entire book is Grover asking you, hindering you, and finally outright begging you not to read any further, because there is a monster at the end of the book.
  • Song of Courage: In The Monster At the End of This Story, Grover's friends all sing the song "Have Courage" to tell him about times when they were brave in the past and to help him see that he can courage too to face the monster.
  • The Stinger: "Oh, I am so embarrassed."
  • Super Strength: When the reader "pulls down" Grover's brick wall by turning the page, on the next one, they find a defeated Grover lying under the rubble, and muttering, "Do you know that you are very strong?"
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Grover finds out he was the monster all along.
  • "Where? Where?": The book as a whole is an extended version.
  • Written Sound Effect: "BONK BAM BING KLONK BONK BING!" as Grover attempts to hammer the pages together to keep the reader from turning them.
  • You Bastard!: Without the profanity, obviously, but Grover gets very upset with the reader for continuing to turn pages despite his best efforts.
 
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Alternative Title(s): The Monster At The End Of This Story

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Have Courage

In "The Monster at the End of This Story" (an animated special based on "The Monster at the End of This Book"), Grover is afraid of the monster at the end of the story. His friends sing him a song to tell him about the times that they had courage when dealing when something scary and to try to help him to see that he can have courage too.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

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Main / SongOfCourage

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