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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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.

TOO MANY CARROTS

When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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BINK & GOLLIE

If James Marshall’s George and Martha were not hippos and were both girls, they would be much like best friends Bink and Gollie in this charming early-reader series debut. Tall, quirkily formal Gollie says “Greetings”; the shorter, more casual Bink just says hello. Gollie uses words like “compromise” and “implore”; Bink needs to learn them fast to keep up. Three winsome short stories—“Don’t You Need a New Pair of Socks?,” “P.S. I’ll Be Back Soon” and “Give a Fish a Home”—illustrate the eminently surmountable challenges to Bink and Gollie’s friendship in rapid-fire dialogue that manages to be both witty and earnest. Fucile’s terrific, cartoonish artwork is expressive and hilarious—black-and-white scratchy lines and washes that effectively use spot color to highlight, say, alarmingly hideous rainbow socks or the faint underwater orange of a freshly liberated pet goldfish. One favorite wordless spread shows Bink holding up her goldfish bowl at the movie theater so her fish-friend can see Mysteries of the Deep Blue Sea… seated next to a mortified Gollie. More, please! (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3266-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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