A feel-good book that effectively mixes gross-out humor, a bit of monster-y horror, and sweet affection.


In this illustrated children’s book, a monster who loves giving hugs figures out how to make friends.

All the monsters in Ghastly Gigapolis hide when the Squeezor comes to town for supplies. Why? Because he “loves to give hugs. Great, big, wrap-his-arms-around-you-twice, squeezy hugs”—and although that doesn’t sound so bad, he also “looks like he wants to eat you up!” Besides those long, long arms, he’s got a mouth full of fangs, huge horns, “squashy” feet with greasy toenails, and sharp claws. But the Squeezor doesn’t actually want to eat anyone; he can’t help how he looks, and he’d like to be friends. He reads some self-help books, including 7 Habits of Highly Disgruntled Monsters, but they don’t give the creature any insight into himself. A portrait of his “Great-Grandmother Squeezums” inspires him to consider others, instead. In town, the Squeezor finds ways to help his fellow monsters by using his long arms. He gets a job and even discovers that his special hug cheers up the local Grumpypuss. Word gets out, and soon the Squeezor is welcomed by everyone; now, they all come out for a hug when he comes to town. Benishek (Dr. Guinea Pig George, 2017, etc.) offers a funny and sweet book that’s good for reading aloud. It features lively prose and references that will appeal to adults as well as kids, as when the Squeezor watches the TV show Game of Bones. It doesn’t quite make sense that a town full of monsters—many of whom also look ready to “eat you up”—would be so put off by the Squeezor, but that’s a small matter. Debut illustrator Fiss’ illustrations have plenty of variety and expressiveness without overdoing the monsters’ scariness; clever details expand the storytelling, such as the darling, if fanged, bunny slippers on vampire Bitey McBitesalot. The book is also available in a special edition for dyslexic readers, printed in an easy-to-read font (not reviewed).

A feel-good book that effectively mixes gross-out humor, a bit of monster-y horror, and sweet affection.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-387-02173-4

Page Count: 42

Publisher: MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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