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.