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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A charming fantasy with a noble moral.

THE LITTLE WITCH

In Pellico’s children’s series starter, a young girl bravely befriends a young witch.

As the sun begins to set on a splendid Halloween, 7-year-old Sabrina and her brother, Stephen, come across a truly spectacular sight. A frightened witch is sitting in a tree after colliding with it in flight; now, she’s dropped her broom, and a group of boys on the ground want to capture her, because, in their view, “Witches are bad” and not to be trusted. Plucky Sabrina climbs the tree with the witch’s broom in hand and introduces herself. Anna, the young witch, is also 7—or at least she thinks so, but because she has no friends, she’s never celebrated a birthday. The two girls hit it off and make plans to meet again and celebrate Anna turning 8. On her broom, the witch soars away, using magic to create a shower of candy for her new pal. Pellico’s book for early readers presents a tale of mystery and friendship with vibrant illustrations to swiftly relay a strong message. The mix of simple and complex vocabulary works well, introducing new terms while also providing plenty of familiar words for youngsters. Despite the short length, there’s adequate dialogue, description, and character development; however, there are a few instances when the sheer volume of text overwhelms the page. Berry’s illustrations offer vivid color and a sense of whimsy; for example, Sabrina is adorned in a tiara, cape, and cowboy boots, showcasing her offbeat, intriguing personality. The brisk plot leaves room for expansion, but its simplicity will resonate with young readers, and it delivers a powerful message about treating strangers with kindness.

A charming fantasy with a noble moral.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73391-307-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Moonbow Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Mordant readers will be thrilled to find a kindred soul.

A ZOMBIE VACATION

Zombies, it turns out, are a lot like Oscar the Grouch.

The undead Israeli narrator of this picture book hates Luna Park in Tel Aviv because the roller coaster has “too many happy people” and the Israel Museum because it has “too many beautiful things.” Zombies, it seems, prefer to vacation in crumbling hotels full of roaches and bedbugs. Grouchy readers, or anyone who’s sick of conventional travel guides, will love the vacation suggestions. The main character goes to see endangered species—they’re also “almost dead”—and spends several pages visiting the Dead Sea. In fact, the book turns into an odd sort of advertisement for that site, with a two-page afterword answering questions like, “How do you float in the Dead Sea?” The promotion may not work on mainstream tourists, but the book will appeal to anyone with Charles Addams’ sense of humor. It’s relentlessly grim with one exception: Ruiz’s pictures of cuddly animals are absolutely adorable. Even the narrator ends up hugging a few kittens in a touching break of character. But the pictures of the zombie are wonderfully grotesque, with bulging eyeballs and jagged teeth. The gray skin and youthful appearance (at age 800) also make the narrator’s race and gender ambiguous, though the other characters come from a wide variety of faiths and ethnicities. But anyone who’s the least bit morbid will find the book hilarious.

Mordant readers will be thrilled to find a kindred soul. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68115-557-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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