Goodhearted, if silly.

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ASIAGO

How can the little vampire enjoy the beach with his friends?

Asiago lives in a castle with his great-uncle Gouda. He likes to play his accordion and swing from a rope, and at night he turns into a bat. When his friend Wendy calls to invite him to the beach, he really isn't sure what a beach is. But he finds an old bathing suit (with cool purple stripes) and is ready to go. Asiago's fun is short-lived: He turns bright red in the sizzling sun, which even sets his ears to smoking. Wendy rescues him with her beach umbrella, but he can't really play, and he gets a splinter from the dock (almost as dangerous as a stake) and a stomach ache from the clams she gives him to eat (all he really likes is garlic). At home, Asiago can't help thinking about his not-so-great day at the beach. Wendy and his other friends save the day with a great idea; they surprise Asiago in his coffin and return with him to the beach... at night. McHeffey's clean colored-pencil illustrations add style and mirth to his simple tale of friendship. His characterization and plotting, however, leave something to be desired. Adults will wonder why these vampires are named for cheeses, and children will wonder how the nocturnal vampire managed to make human friends?

Goodhearted, if silly. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6138-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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A metafictive treat.

I WILL CHOMP YOU!

Never mind a monster at the end, there’s a monster all the way through this book!

Starting on Page 1, the protagonist monster uses direct address to warn readers not to turn any pages. The book’s very title reveals the threat behind this warning, and Shea’s toothy monster—all mouth and head and bluster—seems ready to follow through with it. Disobeying the command provokes metafictive peril as warnings to readers persist, and various small creatures depicted on the page (a bird, a frog, and a wee bunny) flee its chomping jaws. The monster misses both them and disobedient readers, growing increasingly angry. Clever illustration choices make it seem as though the monster has chomped through the pages of the book, and soon its commands devolve into pleading. Why? “It’s because I have all my cakes back here, at the end of the book,” the greedy monster explains. In a fiendish ploy to trick readers, the monster offers to share, saying, “just come a little closer…” and a page turn reveals (yet another) “CHOMP!” Defeated, the monster resigns itself to readers’ progress toward the end of the book, and it chomps up all the cakes, leaving it with the just deserts of a bellyache. Throughout, Shea’s vibrant, silly pictures diminish the scariness of the story’s premise and deliver humorous characterization.

A metafictive treat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38986-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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A humorous, somewhat unoriginal offering—for kids who prefer monsters to dinosaurs.

EVEN MONSTERS...

Who says monsters can only be frightful?

Although monsters roar, snarl, grumble, growl and howl, Smith’s playful text asserts that they also know how to behave. The text’s cheeky humor is immediately apparent as the tasks the little monsters carry out involve putting on clean underwear and combing cooties out of their fur. Illustrations extend the text about eating a “well-rounded breakfast” by depicting a box of “Swamp Munch Cereal” with “Free Bugs Inside” alongside a carton of “Mantis Milk.” Such playful intraiconic work affirms the interdependence of art and text, but the occasional indistinctness of the art and the sometimes-cluttered layout of the pages undermine the overall cohesion of the work as a whole. Furthermore, readers familiar with Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s How Do Dinosaurs… series may find that this title cuts a bit too close to the line between similar and derivative in its execution.

A humorous, somewhat unoriginal offering—for kids who prefer monsters to dinosaurs. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8652-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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