Pretty Monster Cover


1- Pick one of the short stories that you are unhappy with the ending. Using the same characters and setting, write your own ending that is between 200-500 words.                    

                    Materials needed: paper, pen/pencil or own device 

2- Pick a favorite short story from Pretty Monsters.  Decided on the main themes or one striking imagery from the story and choose how to represent this in a creative format. Can consider, drawing, computer sketch, collage from magazine/ computer images, a combination of creative elements.   

Materials needed: Paper to create, old magazines to cut up, glue, markers, colored pencils

3- One person reading out loud the short story “The Wrong Grave” to the class. Those listening, doodle whatever comes to mind.  After the story, share the doodles and try to pick out elements of the stories based on each other’s doodles.   

                     Materials needed: paper and pencils, copy of The Wrong Grave to read  

4-Magic Handbag-  Pull objects out of a handbag and together create a story about the world that exists in the bag, if you could escape into it.

Materials needed:  old bag, 3-5 random objects, paper or own device

5-Create your own Wizard staff – because we are all wizards.  Decorate the star/circle to put on top of the staff.

Materials needed:  dowl rod cut in half, star/ circle topper for the top, glue

Small Group Discussion questions

The Wrong Grave 

  • Who might the narrator be?  
  • How effective are cultural references such as Survivor and Buff the Vampire Slayer to the readers’ understanding of the characters?  
  • Why would Bethany pretend to be someone else with Miles? 

The Wizards of Perfil 

  • Who was Tolcet? 
  • Why would Tolcet change his mind last minute of which child he wanted to buy? 
  • Why didn’t Onion try harder to tell his aunt and train conductors about the upcoming doom? 
  • What connected Halsa and Onion? 
  • Why make the young wizards do tasks for wizards that no longer exist? 

Magic for Beginners 

  • Where is the line between The Library as a TV show and real life? 
  • How would you feel if someone wrote you as a book character only to have you die? 
  • Was the phonebooth the connection between two worlds? 
  • How can Jermery be part of a story while also enjoying it as a viewer? 

The Faery Handbag 

  • Have you ever found something interesting or must-have in a thrift store? 
  • How effective is it when the narrator talks to you the reader as the story is told? 
  • Would you take the chance and go into the handbag? 
  • Is Zofia’s phrase “I’m the best liar in the world. Promise me won’t believe a single word” effective to keep the truth hidden? \
  • Did Genevieve miss Jake more or the adventures he might be having without her in the handbag? 
  • What caused Zofia’s death in the end? 
  • Do you ever wonder what stories surround your previously-owned possessions? 

The Specialist’s Hat 

  • What is the Specialist? 
  • Who is the babysitter? 
  • How would you enjoy living in a house that had tours through it? 
  • Is there importance to the reference of snakes? 
  • Look up agouti, peccary, tapir, and curassow 


  • Who would you be in the story, Bryan Jones, Terence, or James Lorbick? 
  • Did the monster cause the snow? 
  • Did you ever learn interesting things at camp? 
  • Did James escape the monster? 

The Surfer  

  • If aliens met you first, would you be a good representation of humanity? 
  • How realistic is the quarantine because of the flu? 
  • Are the aliens returning the main story or the background story? 
  • Would you have deleted Sorken’s (soccer coach) messages like Dorn did or listened to them? 
  • What happened after the aliens came back? 

The Constable of Abal 

  • Why would Zilla (mother) change her outlook on ghosts so drastically?  
  • If you could have a ghost companion, what would they be like? 
  • Why did Ozma keep the constable as a companion? 
  • Who or what is Lady Fralix? 
  • What would have happened if Lady Fralix had eaten the fruit? 

Pretty Monsters  

  • Which story is the main one? 
  • Do you think the representation of teenagers is realistic? 
  • What does it mean to be a monster? 
  • Who are the characters in the LC section at the end of the story? 

The Cinderella Game  

  • Why do you think Mrs. Daly left? 
  • Why does Darcy give Peter time to put the forbidden movies at the end? 
  • What’s your favorite horror movie? 
  • Is this story itself a fairytale? 

Overall Questions  

  • Every story in the collection begins with a drawing by the distinguished Australian author and illustrator Shaun Tan, who chose a line from each story to inspire his drawings. Did these drawings affect how you approached the stories? What lines or phrases from each story resonated with you? 
  • Can you imagine the characters in these stories as adults? Would they be very different? 

Online Discussion Questions

Join in the conversation today!

What is your favorite story? What made this story stand out?
What is your favorite illustration and why?
Which story was your least favorite?  What would you change?