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Lulu and the Hunger Monster™

illustrated by Sheryl Murray

When Lulu’s mother’s van breaks down, money for food becomes tight and the Hunger Monster comes into their lives. Only visible to Lulu, Hunger Monster is a troublemaker who makes it hard for her to concentrate in school. How will Lulu help her mom and defeat the Monster when Lulu has promised never to speak the monster’s name to anyone?

This realistic—and hopeful—story of food insecurity builds awareness of the issue of childhood hunger, increases empathy for people who are food insecure, and demonstrates how anyone can help end hunger. Lulu and the Hunger Monster empowers children to destigmatize the issue of hunger before the feeling turns into shame.

The author combines years of experience fighting hunger as a food bank CEO with an MFA in writing for young children to craft an honest story of how poverty and food insecurity can affect adults and their children. Lulu’s story addresses the effects of hunger on learning and can be used in group settings to address social justice issues in an accessible and encouraging way.
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Hardcover $14.99 85461 Hardcover 85461 $14.99

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ISBN: 978-1-63198-546-1
Reading Level: Grade 2
Interest Level: Ages 5–9
Guided Reading Level: M
Lexile Measure: 610L
Illustrated: color illust.
Trim Size: 8" x 10"
Page Count: 40
Praise for Lulu and the Hunger Monster

“In this story illustrating the reality of childhood hunger and food insecurity, Lulu invites kids into her world to help them understand what it's like to battle the Hunger Monster. Lulu and the Hunger Monster delivers the right message at the right time, helping readers recognize the problem of childhood hunger and moving them to find solutions.”—Jeff Bridges, actor and anti-hunger advocate
  • 2020 Foreword INDIES Honorable Mention, Picture Books, Early Reader (Children's)
  • International Literacy Association’s 2021 Social Justice Literature Award Winner
Lulu and the Hunger Monster video playlist

Download the leader’s guide.

  • Common Core State Standards


  • ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success

    MS.1, MS.2, MS.3, BS.LS.1, BS.LS.9, BS.SMS.6, BS.SMS.7, BS.SMS.8, BS.SMS.9, BS.SMS.10, BS.SS.1, BS.SS.2, BS.SS.3, BS.SS.4, BS.SS.5, BS.SS.6, BS.SS.7, BS.SS.8, BS.SS.9

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User Reviews

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October 25, 2020 / Madeleine Ranson - Oakland, CA
Highly Recommend to Teachers!

As an elementary school teacher I would definitely recommend Lulu and the Hunger Monster! This beautifully written story is developmentally appropriate for ages TK and up. As a read aloud it offers rich opportunities to discuss empathy, friendship, self-care, childhood hunger, speaking up for yourself, and how to access local resources. Erik Talkin was able to write about childhood hunger in a way that is empowering and affirming to children who might be able to relate to Lulu, while simultaneously educating students about the invisible impact hunger can have on a child’s life. I teach at a school where many families rely on the local food bank, and my students feel seen and validated by Lulu’s experiences in this story.

October 22, 2020 / Mary
A must-have for any school classroom!

Lulu and the Hunger Monster is a story about the realities of food insecurity from a child’s perspective. The child Lulu’s hunger is made manifest as a literal monster trailing around behind her, as a constant burden she must bear. The hungrier she is, the larger the monster becomes.

The monster Lulu imagines is how her kid-brain is coping with her anxiety. By giving her anxiety a physical form, it provides an access point for children to understand, and empathize with her plight. I’ve worked in schools in communities affected by these issues, I would be comfortable using this book as a resource to discuss these complicated issues.

I would definitely recommend this book to parents and educators as a soft-introduction to use in a discussion about food insecurity with their children. It seeks to explain a complex and sometimes scary issue to a child who may have no awareness that in some families, food is in short supply.

October 20, 2020 / Johnny L - Los Angeles
Heartfelt Story & Effective Resource

This story illustrates the way that financial strain and hunger burrow into the minds of children. The main character Lulu is instantly charming and sympathetic, representing an all too common and quiet struggle. Using lovely imagery by Sheryl Murray and clear language by Erik Talkin, we follow her on a nuanced journey of the cycle of shame, frustration and confusion young children deal with at home and school. Without dipping into the saccharine or melodramatic, Lulu's story is incredibly effective in showing warning signs that might not be too obvious, ways to ask/give help to those struggling, and outlets for families to get back on their feet. The relationship between Lulu and her best friend Ava was especially a stand out for me - we could all use a friend like Ava.

As an educator to 5th grade students in a low income area as well as a nanny to an extremely privileged family, this is a book that feels important for all children, educators and parents. The information given in the last few pages regarding food banks and ways everyone can fight the Hunger Monster was helpful, clear and heartfelt. I can’t recommend this book enough!

October 1, 2020 / Julie Yurko
Lovely book sharing the realities of childhood hunger

Lulu and the Hunger Monster is a beautifully written and illustrated book about a young girl who is hungry. It shares how being hungry impacts her, physically and emotionally, and how she and her family bravely ask for help from their local food pantry and food bank. The focus on how everyone helps each other, and that we can need help and give help at the same time, is true and heartwarming. Author Erik Talkin, an extraordinary Food Bank leader, has given us a gift with this book...a gift that we can share so that everyone knows that, together, we can make sure no one knows the Hunger Monster.

September 30, 2020 / Lauren Anderson
Wonderful book and teaching tool for speech therapists, educators, and parents!

This is a wonderful and insightful book for children to learn about the topics of food insecurity and hunger in the classroom. I’m a speech-language pathologist who has worked in various school settings with students from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds, and I think a lot of us who work in schools have noticed how unfortunately common food insecurity is, and how hunger can significantly impact our students’ well-being and learning in so many ways. I think this author did a great job at portraying this topic in a sensitive, kid-friendly way, as well as providing a way for educators and parents to open up a conversation with their kids about helping others. I would definitely read this during my speech therapy sessions as a way to target language, problem-solving, and social skills.

September 25, 2020 / Laura Shields - los angeles
Great book for children and adults!

Not only is Lulu and the Hunger Monster a lovely read with sweet illustrations, but also it is a perfect way to help struggling families and kids know that their situation is not shameful and that there are compassionate people and helpful resources much stronger than the hunger monster. It is also a great book to share with kids that never go hungry, so that they can appreciate their full bellies and grow into aware, compassionate, and helpful people like Ava, Mr. Abidi, and the author, Erik Talkin!

September 18, 2020 / Emily - Oakland
Amazing book for teachers and families!!

I teach in Oakland Public schools and I have been looking for a children's book that talks about hunger in an appropriate and relatable way for years. Lulu and the Hunger Monster has beautiful illustrations and a powerful story for students of all ages. All of my TK students loved it! As a teacher, I was so impressed with the teacher guide that comes with the book. It has full lesson plans, strategies for integrating the book into curriculum, guiding questions, and resources for students. Especially during a pandemic when many of my students' families are struggling, this book came out at a perfect time. Buy this book for your classroom to show all students that they are seen and understood, teach them empathy, and connect to families who need support.

September 18, 2020 / Sue LaNeve
Hunger, Humor, Heart

I loved the way Erik wove Lulu’s humor into the heart-wrenching reality of her hunger, how he showed the effects of hunger in child-relatable examples, and how the ending reveals the life-changing oasis and need for food banks. This book has inspired me to forward it to my food bank in St, Pete to inspire and comfort others. Bravo!


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