Monster Boy

J.D. Harelik

Book Cover



    Core Theme














    6th-grader Joey Price has been suffering some scary problems: divorce, puppy love, and peer pressure. But his life's getting scarier. After a prank gone bad, Joey's now transforming into a different monster each day. He must break the curse before Halloween's over...or be doomed a monster forever.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 7-12,13-17

    Target Gender: Universal


    Borelon, California

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Prawn Books

    Year Published: 2017

    Starting Description

    Sixth-grader Joey Price, riding bikes around the neighborhood with a cool older kid, agrees to spit in the face of a weaker boy -- and is subsequently cursed by the boy's great-grandmother.

    Ending Description

    Joey selflessly risks his life to protect some weaker kids at a Halloween party, thus breaking the curse against him and returning his life to normal.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available




    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Coming of Age,Happy Ending

    Plot - Premise

    Internal Journey/Rebirth,Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Joey Price

    Age: 12

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Desperate,Honorable,Naive

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Mark Chaney

    Age: 12

    Gender: Male

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Clumsy,Faithful,Honorable,Obedient,Selfless,Strong Moral Code

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Tuck Warner

    Age: 12

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aggressive,Villainous,Power Hungry

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Sixth-grader Joey Price just wants to be cool. After all, he doesn’t have much else going for him: his parents divorced, his crush won’t look at him, and his best friend’s a nerd. But after a cruel prank gets Joey cursed, he finds himself transforming into a new and more awful monster each day. First he’s a zombie, then Frankenstein’s creature, and then a werewolf. What’s next, he wonders…and can he stop the curse before Halloween arrives and dooms him a monster forever? Monster Boy offers a fun, funny, and visually appealing coming-of-age kids’ movie with a message: it’s being true to ourselves and our friends that get us through the toughest of times. Plenty of spooky—but not too spooky—scenes will offer an entertaining spin on some comfortably familiar Halloween characters. Several opportunities arise for some very cool and story-relevant special effects. And a heart-warming ending allows Joey to save the day…with a twist. Is there a classic live-action Halloween movie for kids? This could be the one.




    After taking part in a mean prank, a 12-year old boy is cursed by his classmate's great grandmother. For one week, the boy is transformed into a different monster each day. And if he doesn't learn his lesson by the time the curse runs out, he'll be forced to stay a monster forever.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The Book Profile generally does a great job of reflecting the book. The sections are concise, descriptive, and without bloat. If there is anything to note here, it could be adding the rest of the characters, like Amanda and Brick, to the Characters section. Otherwise, great job with this!

    Draw of Story

    Joey Price is relatable from the beginning. His goal is to fit in, and despite his initial lapse in judgment, he is an easy character to root for. His flaws make him feel authentic and multi-dimensional and his motivation is consistent and easily understood. The story itself is also approachable, and the speculative elements are fun and not too difficult to follow.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The pacing feels rushed at certain points, and it'd be interesting to see what happens if the scenes had a bit more room to breathe. For instance, if Joey had to learn to be Frankenstein for just a little while longer, and perhaps work slightly harder to win Mark over, it could elevate the story and make things feel more natural and fully fleshed out. Additionally, it feels like each day of the curse ends the same way: with Joey falling asleep and the story essentially resetting itself in the morning. It'd be great if there was more of a build, to increase some of the tension and escalate Joey's plight more. A few consequences or tangible things to overcome along the way could be helpful. Perhaps Joey does have to face the principal after demanding he do his homework. Or maybe Amanda does have some recollection of Joey entering her bedroom. Even having Joey wake up somewhere other than his bedroom might be interesting.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    Joey's plight is humanized enough to be compelling, but it also balances well with the story's fantasy elements. Theme is utilized particularly well throughout, and the plot line delivers a nice key takeaway for audiences.

    Fanbase Potential

    MONSTER BOY would appeal to fans of YA holiday movies (Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, etc.). It might also appeal to those who enjoy stories with strong key messages. One of its draws is that it has crossover appeal, meaning that it has a large potential target market. It could perhaps even find international success, if adapted adequately, and could be beloved regardless of gender, sexual identification and/or political beliefs.

    Awards Potential

    Generally, films of this genre do not receive above the line Awards attention. But there is certainly below the line potential here. An adaptation like this would require careful cinematography and a clever score as well. There might also be potential for things like costuming and special effects, if done sufficiently.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    The story's message is delivered in a unique way. Joey literally transforms into various different monsters in an attempt to learn that, sometimes, change is okay. He then changes his attitude, and his goals to reflect what he's learned. To make the story more unique however, it'd be interesting if Joey had some tangible things to overcome throughout the story. For instance, having him learn something from, say, getting caught in Amanda's bedroom could be interesting. And if he had to work a bit harder on the page to overcome his aversion to Lee, or his father's new marriage, it could make the story feel more multi-dimensional and complex throughout.

    Lead Characters

    Joey stands out because he's relatable. We understand his goals, his motivations and most of his reactions. His actions all have decent justifications, even if they are slightly misguided. Because of this, he's easy to root for. That said, Tuck's motivations don't stand out quite as much. It'd be interesting if we had a bit more on that somewhere within the pages, to better juxtapose him against Joey.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Although the story has potential, it doesn't feel like a rare gem quite yet. Generally, it feels like the story moves a bit too quickly and the scenes would benefit from having more room to breathe. Tangible consequences for Joey to overcome throughout the story could also make the entire project feel more complex and increase the tension levels. Some additional character development could be helpful as well. We don't get much on Tuck's motivation, so it's hard to understand his actions. Humanizing him a bit might make him a more effective antagonist, because he'd gain some relatability. We don't get much on Mark either. It'd be interesting to do a deep dive into his relationship with Joey, so we can better understand their dynamic and better gauge Mark's desire to help his friend.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Studio, Streaming, Indie TV Series: Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation



    While the skeleton of the story feels solid, the execution feels like it needs to be slowed down just a bit. Joey moves us through the story really quickly, without adequate time for character development or sustainable tension. Additionally, there's not much for him to overcome on the page. For instance, he doesn't work very hard to change his aversion to Lee. And although the setup of conflict with his father is done well, it doesn't ever feel like it pays off.

    Tips for Improvement

    Slowing the pace a bit would be a great place to start. Adding some tangible conflict could be helpful as well. It'd be great if Joey had to work slightly harder to overcome each stage of his journey, instead of simply waiting it out the way he does. Maybe he learns a new piece of the message while transformed as each monster. Or maybe he has to face the consequences of the things he's done in a more obvious way. Elevating the character development would be beneficial as well. We don't know much about Tuck or Mark, except for their specific tropes (foe vs. friend). Doing a deep dive into relationship dynamics, motivations and goals could help the story feel more well-rounded overall. Finally, making sure to include some payoff could really help the story feel more complete. Having Joey work a little harder to make amends with his parents could be great. Or having some resolution with Amanda could be interesting as well. Still, there is potential here. Keep at it, and best of luck!


    After taking part in a mean prank, a 12-year old boy is cursed by his classmate's great grandmother. For one week, the boy is transformed into a different monster each day. And if he doesn't learn his lesson by the time the curse runs out, he'll be forced to stay a monster forever.

    What We Liked

    MONSTER BOY is a Children's/YA Halloween project with a solid core message. It explores the consequences of bad decisions by transforming a young boy into various monsters as he attempts to learn who he is, and who he wants to be. Along the way, our hero faces his parent's divorce, his first crush and learns the meaning of true friendship while the clock ticks away and he waits to see if his life will ever be the same.

    Film: MONSTER BOY could be well-suited for film. It has relatively firm start and end points, both of which encompass the story's core message. The protagonist hits several different highs and lows, which help elevate the tension and could keep audiences engaged. Additionally, the characters all have the potential to be engaging with proper development. Across the board, they're likable and easy to root for.

    TV: Because this is a Halloween project, it feels much better suited to a miniseries in lieu of a typical series format. That said, each phase of the protagonist's journey could be its own episode. At different points, the lead character transforms into Frankenstein, a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost. There is enough source material to expand each section into its own Hero's Journey, and the story has enough of a through line to sustain multiple episodes.

    Key points:
    Potential crossover appeal.
    Fun concept.
    Relatively low budget.
    Great core message.


    TUCK (12) dares JOEY (12) to knock on COOPER aka POOPER’S (12) front door and spit in his face. Joey complies, hoping that it will win him some popularity points with Tuck. Tuck leaves Joey to face Pooper’s great grandmother, GG, who calls him Monster Boy over and over. That night, Joey dreams of the old woman and Pooper, and that he scrapes his knee. Joey wakes up to realize that he has scraped his knee. His brain is foggy, but he makes it to school. His nerdy best friend, MARK CHANEY (12), approaches but so does Tuck and Joey is rude to Mark.

    Joey is taking a vocabulary test when one of his eyeballs pops out of his head. He hurries to the bathroom and pops it back in. But soon, both eyeballs fall out. The school bully, BRICK, arrives and tries to fight Joey. But Joey’s eye sockets scare Brick, and he runs off. Joey waits inside a stall until Mark shows up and discovers that Joey has transformed into a zombie. He walks Joey to the nurse’s office and Joey begins trying to eat people's’ brains. The NURSE gives Joey cough medicine and knocks him out. When he awakens again, he is normal.

    Pooper tells Mark that GG is a European witch, who cursed Joey to become a different monster every day for five days. If he doesn’t learn his lesson by the last day, he will remain a monster forever. Mark helps Joey write an apology letter to GG.

    The next morning, Joey wakes up and everything appears normal. On the way to school, lightning seems to be going right for Joey. He wakes up in the science lab and discovers that the lightning separated all his limbs. Mark tells Joey that GG knows that he didn’t write the apology letter and brings Joey a costume from the theatre department to disguise himself throughout the day. Joey approaches Pooper at the bus stop. Pooper tells Joey that he accepts his apology and feels sorry for him. Pooper tells him that he could try his luck at apologizing to GG in person.

    Joey finds himself outside of his dad’s new house. A MAN approaches and gets aggressive. He tries to hit Joey with a bat, but Joey’s monster strength breaks the bat. When the man gets a good look at Joey’s face, he runs. Joey runs all the way home, locks himself in his room and falls asleep.

    The next morning, Joey wakes up with a chip on his shoulder. He’s angry, and he sprints off to school. He interrupts his teacher’s lecture and gets sent to the principal’s office. He doesn’t go and instead helps his crush, AMANDA, with posters for the school dance. He spots the football team practicing and finds a practice jersey. He joins them and pummels one of the players.

    At home, Joey finds his mother and her co-worker, LEE, eating chicken. He convinces himself that Lee is trying to replace his father. Upstairs, Joey transforms into a werewolf. He wants to eat Lee, and his mother. He jumps out of his window and finds Mark waiting for him. Joey can’t help but want to eat Mark and throws himself into a moving car to protect Mark. He runs through the woods, and ends up back at his father’s house. Through the window, he sees his father with his new wife and her daughter, reading together. He uses his snout to shatter the window and scare them all. At the last moment, he runs off and back through the woods.

    Joey wakes up to discover that his mother has made him fresh eggs and orange juice. He’s thrilled, until she cuts her finger, and he realizes that he has a craving for blood. Now a vampire, Joey decides to go apologize to GG. She forgives him but tells him that she cannot remove the curse. It will only wear off if Joey has truly learned his lesson.

    Joey gets to school and realizes that he has control over everybody. He decides to have some fun, and punches Brick in the gut. He asks the principal to mark him present in all his classes and do his homework for the week. He sees Amanda and struggles with both wanting to kiss her and wanting to bite her neck. He realizes that he can levitate. He calls Mark out of class and realizes that he wants to bite him, too. He tells Mark to run and goes home. He meditates on the roof, and when his mom gets home, demands that she go to the movies with Lee, so he doesn’t bite her. He flies around town and ends up at Amanda’s house. He enters through her window, and she reveals her neck, asking him to bite her. At the last moment, Joey decides to fly home.

    The day of Scary Fest is normal, and Joey waits to see which monster he’ll transform into next. Tuck tries to convince him to prank Mark at the dance, but Joey refuses. On the way to the dance, Tuck knocks him unconscious. Joey wakes up a ghost and stashes his body in a doghouse. He realizes that Tuck fixed a dance contest so the nerds would have to dance in front of everybody. Joey steps into Mark’s body and helps him succeed on the dance floor. He does the same for another contestant but is surprised when the third can dance all by herself. He finds Tuck and throws him into Brick, starting a fight between the two bullies. Then, he’s drawn back into his body and wakes up in the doghouse. He returns home to find his mother and Lee asleep on the couch. Upstairs, he falls asleep instantly. The next morning, Joey and Mark ride over to Cooper’s. They watch scary movies together and Joey discovers the change in himself. He makes amends with his mother and his father and becomes a kinder person to all around him.

    About The Author

    J.D. Harelik is a private tutor and test prep instructor. He holds a BA in English and an MFA in Creative Writing.