Posted by: Kathy Temean | August 26, 2021

Book Giveaway: HOW TO RETURN A MONSTER by Charlotte Offsay

Charlotte Offsay has written a new picture book, HOW TO RETURN A MONSTER illustrated by Rea Zhai and published by Beaming Books. It is hitting bookstores on September 7th. Charlotte has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner living in the United States..

All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know other things you do to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book, so thank you for helping Charlotte and Rea.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


If your grown-ups bring home a small monster, er, baby, don’t panic. Just send it back!

In this hilarious and heartfelt book about sibling relationships, a girl can’t believe it when her parents bring home a fussy, stinky, attention-stealing monster. She hatches a plan to send it back to where it came from, with hilarious results . . . and along the way, she learns that maybe monsters–and siblings–aren’t so bad after all.


Thank you for having me here today, Kathy. I am excited to share the book journey for my new picture book, How to Return a Monster.

Book Description: How to Return a Monster is a humorous how-to story about a girl who can’t believe it when her parents bring home a fussy, stinky, attention-stealing monster. She hatches a plan to send it back to where it came from, with hilarious results . . . and along the way, she learns that maybe monsters–and baby siblings–aren’t so bad after all.

My best story ideas tend to come from the things in my life that are taking up the most room in my heart. The idea for How to Return a Monster began right around the time my daughter separated from me for the very first time. She was transitioning to preschool and was having a particularly hard time, which was not helped by the fact that she knew I was home with her baby brother all day. I was consumed with second time mom guilt about not being able to spend as much time with her as I used to, and was worried that my daughter was feeling as though she had been replaced. I began writing a story about just that, an older sibling feeling replaced by their baby brother.

​I first wrote the story using toy trains as stand-ins for my human characters. The story revolved around an older train feeling replaced by a shiny new one and had a traditional narrative arc. Unfortunately, though, no matter how many times I rewrote it, the story felt too much like a sad twist on Toy Story. I wanted to write a story that children would want to read again and again, and a depressing train story wasn’t going to cut it. I decided that in order to bring in the fun and make this a story that kids could not only relate to but also enjoy, I needed to add in some humor. I took the heart of my idea and started over – new characters, new POV and a whole new structure. I am a big fan of how-to books and when I experimented with a how-to structure and a voice-y narrator, my manuscript finally clicked into place. ​

After workshopping my new manuscript with my critique partners, I made sure to get fresh eyes on my story. I took the manuscript to an Inked Voices workshop and got a professional critique. Those critiques helped me to amplify the humor and strengthen the manuscript and I finally had a version that I was ready to begin sending out.

I was between agents at the time and decided to send How to Return a Monster to a couple of agents that had requested more work. Meanwhile, I looked around to see how else I could get my work in front of agents and decided to pitch How to Return a Monster in a twitter pitch contest called #PBPitch to see if I could drum up any agent interest that way.

I didn’t get any agent requests but to my delight I did get one from a publisher! Andrew DeYoung at Beaming Books liked my tweet/pitch and asked me to send him the manuscript. Shortly after I sent the manuscript over to Beaming Books, I signed with the wonderful Nicole Geiger at Full Circle Literary and we signed a contract with Beaming Books for How to Return a Monster a few months later!

I was fortunate to get to edit the manuscript with two fabulous Beaming Books editors, Andrew DeYoung and Jill Braithwaite. They both went back and forth with me on edits, and hired Rea Zhai to bring the book to life with her adorable and wonderfully expressive characters. They were kind to include me in the illustration process and ask for my input along the way.

I am thrilled with the way How to Return a Monster has turned out, and am excited to launch it into the world on September 7th! Thank you for reading my book journey and happy creating everyone!


CHARLOTTE OFFSAY was born in England, grew up in Boston, and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two small children. Through her work, Charlotte hopes to make children laugh, to inspire curiosity, and to create a magical world her readers can lose themselves in time and time again. She is the author of, The Big Beach Cleanup, (Albert Whitman 2021). How to Return a Monster is publishing this September with Beaming Books and A Grandma’s Magic is publishing in March 2022 from Doubleday Books for Young Readers.

Learn more about Charlotte’s work at and follow her on Twitter at @COffsay and on  Instagram at @picturebookrecommendations.


Since 2015, Rea Zhai started to work as a freelance Illustrator and began to create different kinds of works, but mostly focus on Children’s book illustration.

Her pieces embody some of her life experiences and inspirations from her life. She received a BFA in Media Design from China Academy of Fine Art, Beijing, China, and MFA in Academy of Art University. She loves drawing landscapes, characters, and cute stuff. She is now living in Beijing, China. And, She has already fully prepared for starting her new career!!

Charlotte, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. I love the playfulness of this book. It is so much fun. That’s because it shows the real life that surrounds all of us. I am sure this will help parents ease their children over the baby bump at home and kids will enjoy the giggles that come from reading your book. Rea did a great job helping you tell this story to create those giggles. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congratulations on your book! Such a fun idea. I wanted to return my monster when I was little, but now I couldn’t live without 😁
    I follow your blog and I receive notifications daily, I retweeted this post.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats, Charlotte! As you know, I LOVE this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very funny! I love the how-to structure:) Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This book looks so fun and so sweet -congrats! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As a big sister, I definitely relate to this premise! Congrats, Charlotte and Rea. (I tweeted and I’m signed up for the emails.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations! (I’m signed up for emails. Don’t Tweet or do FB)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on Terry Pierce.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So glad I’m signed up for the emails! I love getting a look at wonderful books like Charlotte’s

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congrats! Your book sounds wonderful and I appreciate the “behind the scenes” interview.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This looks really adorable. Can’t wait to read it. I re-tweeted the post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a hilarious concept! I can’t wait to read it. Congrats!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing your story! I follow this blog. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. this book sounds hilarious, definitely a must-have for any siblings experiencing the ‘baby blues’ : )

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is a delightful looking book–I look forward to it coming out! Congrats!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. What an adorable idea for a picture book. This looks really clever and cute. Thanks for telling me about it. I subscribe to your blog by email.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. This is such a brilliant idea for a picture book. Thanks for sharing the story behind the story, Charlotte, and congratulations on your new agent . I can’t wait to read How to Return a Monster.
    (newsletter subscriber)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Great interview, Charlotte! Congratulations on this wonderful book. Kathy, I’m a subscriber and have share this on Twitter.


  18. Congrats, Charlotte! Can’t wait to read your book – looks great 🙂


  19. Congratulations, Charlotte! Looking forward to reading this book!


  20. Yay how exciting! I was just reading Charlotte’s Big Beach Cleanup with my son (age 4) yesterday. Excited to see her latest book; can’t wait to read it! 🙂


  21. This is a fun idea and a book I would love to study as mentor text. I’m an email subscriber and shared:


  22. Congratulations, Charlotte! This looks absolutely delightful! I loved hearing about how the manuscript changed over time.


  23. Congratulations, Charlotte! Thanks for sharing your book’s journey and how it evolved through the revisions!

    Kathy, I shared on twitter @jkspburg) and I get your blog daily.


  24. That’s one adorable monster! I’m glad big sister had a change of heart. (Kathy, I subscribe to your blog.)


  25. So adorable! I’m sure this will resonate with older siblings of new monsters, I mean babies. Congrats!

    I follow by email and will tweet this post, Kathy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Congratulations Charlotte and Rea! HOW TO RETURN A MONSTER has tweaked my curiosity with its humor and lively illustrations. Feeling the fun! I can’t wait to read your new story! I’m tweeting!!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. How fun and adorable! Congratulations!!

    Liked by 1 person

  28. I LOVE this book! I’m wondering if, in a few months, this book will end up perfect for my granddaughters! We’ll see how the little one turns out 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Too, too adorable! Congratulations on the new book, Charlotte!!

    Liked by 1 person

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