Monster Nanny

Reading material

Full English text
Finnish edition

Original title: Mörkövahti

Published: 2015

Publisher: Tammi

Class/genre: Middle-Grade

Pages: 303


Arvid Lydecken Prize winner 2015

Monster Nanny series, Book I
With monochrome illustrations by Pasi Pitkänen

Mary Poppins meets Where the Wild Things Are in this prize-winning series.

The Hellman children must make do with a nanny while their mother is away at a spa. The only problem? Their nanny is a monster.

Grah is hairy, dusty, and doesn’t talk. When the siblings discover that other neighborhood kids have been left with similar creatures, they start to wonder where the monsters came from. With the parents away, the kids work together (between bickering) to figure out the mystery of the monsters.

Tolonen seamlessly intertwines contemporary life with a world full of strange creatures. Monster Nanny is at once a refreshing change of pace and a return to timeless adventure.


Rights sold:

FINLAND, Tammi (orig. publisher)

AUSTRALIA, Allen & Unwin
BOSNIA, Šahinpašić
BRAZIL, DarkSide Books
CHINA, Beijing Children’s Publishing House
DENMARK, Turbine
ESTONIA, Tiritamm
FRANCE, Editions Robert Laffont
GERMANY, Carl Hanser Verlag
HUNGARY, Tessloff Babilon
ITALY, Salani/Mauri Spagnol
LATVIA, Zvaigzne
LITHUANIA: Nieko Rimto
NETHERLANDS, Luitingh-Sijthoff
NEW ZEALAND, Allen & Unwin
NORWAY, Gyldendal Norsk
OCEANIA, Allen & Unwin
POLAND, Vesper
PORTUGAL, Asa Editiones/Leya
ROMANIA, Editura Univers
RUSSIA, Rosman
SLOVENIA, Mladinska knjiga
SPAIN (Spanish), La Galera
SPAIN (Catalan), La Galera
SWEDEN, Rabén & Sjögren
TURKEY, SEV Redhouse Kidz
UKRAINE: School Publishing House
UNITED STATES: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
FILM RIGHTS, Scott Free Productions


In the media:

”The upbeat tone, oddball details, and Pitkänen’s humorous b&w cartoons combine to create a strange but entertaining romp that will surprise readers at every turn.” – Publishers Weekly, USA

“The first in a duology, Tuutikki’s book won the Arvid Lydecken prize in Finland and will have wide appeal among young readers. Within its pages, children outsmart adults, sense the vulnerable emotions of the monsters, and come to depend upon themselves and new friends. Loose-lined ink illustrations add extra humor to this imaginative fantasy, and plentiful dialogue makes it prime for reading aloud.”  — Booklist

“…a diverting and different read-aloud.” — Kirkus

“This riddle-filled story is original, touching, incredible.” 4.5/5 stars — Livresse des Livres blog, France

”The unflappable Halley, the resourceful Koby, and the self-possessed Mimi, inspired by her talking blue bathrobe, have the right stuff to be perfect fictional friends for a home-alone school holiday. The Hellman children’s monster, Grah, is far from a Mary Poppins, but in that honored tradition of children who find fantastic adventures just beyond the purview of parents, this one is right on target to enchant middle readers who dream of summer fun during these long winter nights.” – Books For Kids Blog, USA

”This was an excellent book because it had characters that I could relate to and an interesting story. I liked that the story had a happy ending. I would recommend this book because it is a fun story that is filled with adventures and mysteries.” – Kids Book Buzz blog, USA

Editorial praise:

“Monster Nanny is a warm and engaging story, written with humour and wit. Children will love the oddness of the strange nannies and enjoy the thrill in uncovering the mystery that surrounds them.” — Alenka Veler, editor, Mladinska knjiga

“Monster Nanny is a children’s book that combines absurdist humour with an adventurous story. The author created a wonderful world, in which mothers are sent on a holiday and their inventive kids take care of themselves. There is a lot of humour in the dialogue and several jokes that make adults laugh as well (like the Invisible Voice). There is a lot to enjoy in this series!” — Thille Dop & Hannerlie Modderman, Luitingh-Sijthoff, The Netherlands

“I loved this fresh and funny novel. The author matter-of-factly creates a world where monsters work as nannies and bathrobes talk – there’s a classic old fashioned, Roald Dahl feel to it with the everyday and the fantastic interacting seamlessly. We’re happy to bring this clever and engaging Finnish novel to US readers.” — Margaret Raymo, senior editor, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, USA

“I am scared of monsters, but very fond of Monster Nanny! I will tell the Chinese readers: if you want a monster and a friend, pick this work up.” — Qi Yangping, editor, Beijing Children’s Publishing House, China

“Tuutikki Tolonen has written a moving and inventive story destined to became a classic and a favourite for generations of children.” —  Olga Portella, editor, and Iolanda Batallé, publishing director, La Galera, Spain

“We are really thrilled to publish Monster Nanny in French, both for its monstrously appealing humor and its wonderful artwork! Mimi, Koby, Halley, the bathrobe and the clueless parents all bring their own fantastic personal touch and it’s bound to have parents and kids alike prolong the traditional bedtime story!” – Fabien Le Roy, editorial manager for YA & children’s books, Robert Laffont

“Monster Nanny is a lovely story with a huge heart. Clearly related to classical tales with a touch of the absurd and a great sense of humour.  Tolonen and Pitkänen have created an adventurous story which is destined to be a future classic loved and read by many, many children – and their grown-ups.” – Sofia Hahr, senior editor, Rabén & Sjögren

Praise from prize juries:

“Themes of friendship and tolerance are woven in the thrilling and good-natured adventure. – – Monster Nanny has all the ingredients of a beloved children’s classic.” – Arvid Lydecken Prize jury

Tuutikki Tolonen

Tuutikki Tolonen is the author of several acclaimed children’s books, plays and academic articles. For Monster Nanny she received the Arvid Lydecken award. She teaches creative writing and has worked as an editor and reporter at Vinski, Finland’s only literary journal for children. Her inspiration for the Monster Nanny duology sparked during a family breakfast. “My son Leo, then six, said: ‘I heard on the radio yesterday that all moms have to go on vacation and monsters will take their places,” she says.


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