Monster-truck fans won’t want to miss this Halloween showdown.

MONSTER TRUCKS

These monster trucks really are monsters, and their race is sure to get cheering children on the edges of their seats.

A spooky speedway surrounded by creepy trees and with gravestones in the center is the setting for this rhyming tale; mummies, ghosts, witches, and skeletons watch from the stands. Five monster trucks enter the race. “Frankentruck is first to arrive. / With a jump of his cables, he’s alive! He’s alive!” Werewolf Truck croons a tune and howls at the moon, Zombie Truck’s headlights glow green and he drips diesel, and Ghost Truck has a wonderfully curvy shape that tapers at the back and a grille shaped like an open, moaning mouth. The last monster truck is Vampire Truck, his purple spoiler shaped like a cape and fangs overhanging his grille. But those aren’t the only contestants: “out of the pit…with a PUTT and a TOOT / comes a Little Blue Bus, / looking perky…and cute.” It’s a VW bus (though her “nose” is an M in a circle rather than a VW). Unsurprisingly, it’s the latecomer who comes out ahead, though Vampire Truck is hot on her trail and ready to drink her fuel. Wragg’s acrylic-and-digital illustrations are sufficiently dark and creepy, filled with greens, purples, and yellows, and the anthropomorphized trucks truly suit their names.

Monster-truck fans won’t want to miss this Halloween showdown. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234522-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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The tips garnered here could be used to scare just about anyone, and for those scared of ghosts, at least your carpets will...

HOW TO SCARE A GHOST

From the How To... series

Reagan and Wildish continue their How to… series with this Halloween-themed title.

If you’ve ever had a hankering to scare a ghost, this handbook is what you need. In it, a pair of siblings shows readers “how to attract a ghost” (they like creepily carved pumpkins and glitter), identify a ghost (real ghosts “never, ever open doors”), and scare a ghost (making faces, telling scary stories). Also included is a warning not to go too far—a vacuum is over-the-top on the scary chart for ghosts. Once you’ve calmed your ghost again, it’s time to play (just not hide-and-seek or on a trampoline) and then decide on costumes for trick-or-treating. Your ghost will also need to learn Halloween etiquette (knocking instead of floating through doors). The title seems a little misleading considering only two spreads are dedicated to trying to scare a ghost, but the package as a whole is entertaining. Wildish’s digital cartoon illustrations are as bright as ever, and the brother and sister duo have especially expressive faces. Both are white-presenting, as are all the other characters except for some kids in the very last spread.

The tips garnered here could be used to scare just about anyone, and for those scared of ghosts, at least your carpets will be clean from all the vacuuming. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0190-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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