HomeAll postsHow To Make A Pet Monster: Hodgepodge by Lili Wilkinson, illustrated by Dustin Spence

How To Make A Pet Monster: Hodgepodge by Lili Wilkinson, illustrated by Dustin Spence

A review by Nalini Haynes

Artie just moved in to a spooky house with his mom, stepfather and stepsister Willow. Mom is renovating the house so Artie takes refuge in the attic, where he finds the Big Boke that tells him how to make a pet monster.

Willow is scary. She plays electric guitar, has black nail polish and is QUITE assertive. Artie, in contrast, seems the shy retiring type who loves science – really, really loves science, including the boring bits – and is very cautious.

Willow wants to make a monster.

In his efforts to dissuade her, Artie helps.

Only they didn’t have the right ingredients so Willow improvises, much to Artie’s horror.

And the spell works.

Meet Hodgepodge.

Willow gives Hodgepodge a quest…


How To Make A Pet Monster has a very small cast, so it’s not surprising that there aren’t any disabled people. However, from the cover and comic-like illustrations, Artie is Brown. Nothing is made of this. I almost didn’t notice until I looked at the back cover then looked again at the illustrations inside. Total acceptance without comment. Thumbs up from me.

The villain

The villain in How To Make A Pet Monster is an entitled rich white guy. Sounds totally legit. Including the lying, cheating and abuse. Despite this menace, Lili Wilkinson keeps the story firmly G-rated and suitable for primary school kids.

Social issues – slight spoiler so perhaps skip this bit

Willow’s quest for Hodgepodge is to get her parents back together although her father is already living with Artie’s mom. This is a common wish for children of separated parents. Wilkinson handles the desire and outcome with surprising grace and dexterity.

The verdict

How To Make A Pet Monster: Hodgepodge is a delight for parents/carers and children alike. It’s somewhat like a G-rated version of a comedic Buffy episode, very Monsters Inc. With fart jokes galore, a cute and cuddly monster, parents to hide him from, a daring rescue and a “cliffhanger” of sorts, readers will finish this novel anticipating the next instalment.

Read this if you enjoy the Willow Moss books by Dominique Valente (podcast interview of Valente).

Book details

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781760877385
Imprint: Albert Street Books (Allen & Unwin)
Released: 2020
Format: Paperback, 200 pages
Category: Children’s, age 7 – 10; fantasy; social issues

How to make a pet monster: Hodgepodge waves

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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