An urbane take on the “nice monster” theme.

MAURICE THE UNBEASTLY

A misfit monster comes into his own when the Abominable Academy for Brutish Beasts is invaded by a scary creature.

Sweet of voice, vegetarian, and “ridiculously photogenic,” Maurice is not only the despair of his hairy parents, but on the verge of being kicked out of school for singing when he should be roaring, dancing when he should be practicing havoc-wreaking, and sneaking alfalfa fritters into the rioting lunchroom. When a frightening invader—which is to say, a frisky small dog—sends the monstrous students and teachers into tizzies, though, Maurice tames the beast with a fritter and so earns the title of Official Creature Whisperer. Not content to rest on his laurels, he leverages this “gargantuan success” by going on to organize an a cappella group called The Barbaritones and campaign for more lunch options (“Raise Your Tail for Kale”). Just as the story celebrates differences, so do Mountford’s cartoon illustrations, which surround Maurice (a Wild Thing outtake with green skin and human facial features) with an array of fellow student monsters, no two of whom look even remotely alike.

An urbane take on the “nice monster” theme. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-1953-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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