It all started last Christmas Eve night. My niece opened one of her presents. Inside the box was a Monster High Skull Shores 5 piece doll set. My daughter’s eyes lit up. What was this new toy? She asked to see the present and drooled over it for at least an hour. She had been bitten by the Monster High bug and my life has not been the same since.
Let me give an introduction to those of you who are not initiated on all things Monster High. We live in an age where monsters are once again cool, thanks to the Twilight and Underworld movie series. Mattel cashed in on this craze (talk about a big cha-ching!) and created Monster High in 2010. Their target audience consists of girls aged 6 to 14. Think of it as Barbie gone monster in a stylish way. It is a globally popular brand that covers movies, dolls, books and other accessories.
I have lost count as to the number of times I have viewed the following movies with my daughter: Ghouls Rule, Friday Night Frights, Why do Ghouls Fall in Love?, Skull Shores, and Scaris: City of Frights. The themes emphasized throughout the series are simple and straight forward. One of the themes is girl power or should I say “ghoul power”. Another is individuality, as every single monster has a special power, just as each of us has a particular talent. Team work is also emphasized. However, most surprisingly is personal accountability. Imagine that! And surprisingly, not once do the girls/ghouls break out into song like in the traditional Barbie movies.
Let me quickly explain the back story. Monster High is an international high school for monsters located in New Salem. Think of it as the monster version of Hogwarts. For us mere normies, high school lasts four years. Thank goodness for that! For monsters, high school can have an indefinite run as Draculaura, the vegetarian vampiress, does celebrate her sweet 1600 and manages to pass her driver’s test that very same year. Frankie Stein, the daughter of Franken Stein, has only just recently been reanimated is trying to catching up on everything. So in essence we are experiencing and learning about the monster world through her eyes.
The primary source of geography comes through the origins of the characters (http://m.monsterhigh.com/students). The countries represented that I can account for are: Egypt, Greece, Australia, Scotland, France, Mexico, Nepal, Romania (Transylvania), China and the United States. However, the Monster High website reports that there are actually 40 countries and 5 dimensions represented throughout the series. Maybe more of it is portrayed in the early cartoon version of the series.
In the movie Scaris: City of Frights, Clawdeen Wolf (voiced by Rosie Perez) is invited to participate in a fashion design competition to see who will apprentice with the famous Monatella Ghostier. She and the accompanying ghoul friends are introduced to the highlights of Scarisian culture. I created a list of what I saw and asked my 5 year old daughter what she remembered. Her response is marked by an asterick. We observed: historic narrow and winding streets, architecture *, fountains, berets, haute couture*, the underground catacombs *, Eiffel Tower (Eiffel Terror)*, Notre Dame Cathedral (I missed the monster name), expresso*, cafes*, baguettes, the Louvre (Bouvre)*, Vespas*, tiny Citroëns*, Quasimodo, and street performers (mimes, musicians, and artists)*.
The bonus story focuses on their return from Scaris to Monster High. The merry chase is lead by Clawdeen’s mischievous design book that hops on airplanes, a train, a boat, hot air balloons, and inside the belly of a sea monster. The journey is portrayed in map style, very much like in the Indiana Jones series. They travel to: Bangladesh, the Himalayas, Skull Shores, China, the Sahara Desert, Transylvania and Dubai.
If you too have a Monster High fan living at home, be warned that the devotion may last for several years. With every visit to the Monster High doll section at Walmart, Target, Toys R US or Amazon.com and each viewing of a Monster High DVD (Note: 13 Wishes is to be released in October of this year), be comforted in knowing that some cultural and geographic lessons are also being absorbed into their eager young minds.