Luring readers with a golden, holographic display type for the title and a grooving green monster on the cover, Catrow pairs his freakishly imaginative artwork with the lyrics to the perennial favorite.
The entire song serves as the rhythmic text in this over-the-top visual experience. Adults who read this aloud will find it difficult not to sing it instead, but a slower oral pace is necessary so that younger eyes can take in the decadently gruesome, bizarre and otherwise weird things that populate the pages. The surreal images are created with a combination of pencil, watercolor, gouache and ink. Kids will either cringe or be fascinated by the spiderlike eyeball with blood vessel trailing behind, the skull with two eyes in one socket outfitted with an octopus bottom or the huge Venus flytrap/insect hybrid. The party reaches a crescendo when the coffin bangers arrive with “The Crypt-Kicker Five,” and out come emaciated rocker skeletons riffing on guitars and impressing with gyrating moves à la the Rolling Stones. On the final pages, two normal kids and a dog come to the door of the creepy castle…and “catch on in a flash” when doing the “monster mash.”
Reserve this for older preschoolers and primary-grade children who may need a fun outlet for candy-fueled Halloween craziness. Clever and odd—but ultimately not essential. (Picture book. 4-7)