Have the art table and smocks ready.

MY MONSTERPIECE

An unseen first-person narrator tries to draw scary beasts.

“I want to make the scariest monster ever!” opens the protagonist, planning to give the creature “a long, green tongue” so it will be “a monster masterpiece—MY MONSTERPIECE!” The first spread shows paints, brushes, and the abstract beginnings of the monster. The second spread shows the finished piece of art. What go unseen, though the text mentions them, are the human characters. The protagonist tries to spook Mom with the picture, but instead she’s enchanted: “I love this chubby kitty,” she says. Three more iterations use the same structure: Protagonist draws a monster with a seemingly scary feature (pointy horns, sharp teeth, claws) and fails to frighten loved ones, who all cheerfully misidentify and mischaracterize the images (“Great job painting an owl!” says Dad; “It’s so cute!” says sister). No humans appear visually until the end, and even then they are child-style stick figures, and a concluding twist in which monsters draw scary kids is more confusing than compelling. Due to these factors, the appeal of this book lies in Hoffman’s portrayal of artistic media. Backgrounds are graph paper, patterned papers, and (perhaps) a lilac-painted board; crayons, paints, pencils, and collages are shown lushly mid-use; scissors, fabrics, and pompoms make vivid cameos. The monster-creation plot is fun, but this is more an invitation to make art.

Have the art table and smocks ready. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953458-01-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Yeehoo Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.

HOW I MET MY MONSTER

From the I Need My Monster series

In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.

As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.

Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947277-09-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Both an entertaining spin on back-to-school jitters and an unusual look at service dogs

BONAPARTE FALLS APART

An elementary-age skeleton is afraid he won’t be able to maintain structural integrity at school.

Bonaparte, a friendly-looking skeleton with an oversized skull and red ball cap, has a problem: he just can’t keep it together—literally. Even such an apparently low-impact activity as a visit to the doctor results in a lost limb when his reflexes are tested. Worse than the inconvenience is the fact that it is sometimes very hard to find those lost bits. Bonaparte asks his pals for help. Franky Stein tries to bolt and glue him together, but he’s too stiff to walk. Blacky Widow spins a web around him, but then he’s hopelessly tangled. Mummicula wraps him securely, but then Bonaparte can’t see. But when his friends spy a dog running by with a bone in his mouth, they realize he can be trained to retrieve Bonaparte’s fallen parts. Mandible proves to be both an invaluable help and a hit with all the kids. Terry’s illustrations feature frankly adorable monsters, large heads and eyes combining with very small mouths to make them look as harmless and childlike as possible (though Blacky Widow’s fangs are still rather prominent). He positions his characters in vignettes on white space; when more-complicated backgrounds are introduced, they are rendered in muted colors.

Both an entertaining spin on back-to-school jitters and an unusual look at service dogs . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93768-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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