Creepy, kooky and deftly delivered, this dark story offers a bright ending for readers who might think they’ve just outgrown...

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THE PRINCE'S NEW PET

When the Queen died and her bereft king banished color from the kingdom, Prince Viridian’s world turned the gloomiest gray. A mysterious present (a cute, colorful creature called a wooglefoof) crashes his birthday party and changes all that, spiriting its garish stripes across the castle and sending the king’s Color Snatcher in fiendish, feverish pursuit.

Scratchy, black ink drawings deliver wobbly, warped perspectives over undulating gray backdrops, punctuated with pop-eyed expressions and swift action. The wooglefoof’s vivid fur clashes brilliantly with fine black linework and murky gray fog, propelling readers onward. Expert paneling unfailingly energizes and advances the story as well, creating a pace that leaves you panting. The sinister Color Snatcher’s jagged cheekbones, sharp nose and supremely str-e-etch-ed smile raises goosebumps, while the wooglefoof’s fluffy rainbow tail, googly eyes and spastic sprints deliver laughs. In Anderson’s giddily dark world, where Tim Burton or Edward Gorey might happily put up their feet, the comic and ridiculous teeter alongside the horrid and beastly. Sophisticated language and frightening chase scenes broaden this book’s appeal to older readers, who might start touting joyful flamboyance over ascetic boredom.

Creepy, kooky and deftly delivered, this dark story offers a bright ending for readers who might think they’ve just outgrown fairy tales. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59643-357-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message.

LOVE, SANTA

A girl named Lucy writes letters to Santa each Christmas as she comes to understand who Santa really is.

The story opens when Lucy is 5, as she prints her letter to Santa, tongue sticking out with the effort. The letter is shown in the accompanying illustration, and a facsimile letter is included in a fancy, gold envelope glued into the book. Lucy’s letters from the next two Christmases are included in similar, attached envelopes, along with two letters in red envelopes that Santa leaves in response. When Lucy is 8, she writes a note to her mom asking if she is Santa, on Christmas morning receiving a letter in one of Santa’s red envelopes but written by Lucy’s mom. This letter is long and sentimental, explaining that “parents” give the actual presents, but the spirit of Santa is real. Charming watercolor illustrations show Lucy’s development. One picture of Santa looking on in dismay as Lucy writes a doubtful letter (“Why does your handwriting look like my mom’s?”) introduces ambiguity about what’s real and what isn’t. (Lucy is also shown riding her bike without a helmet.) Lucy, her parents, and Santa are white; background figures are racially diverse. The admission of parental involvement in Santa’s gift deliveries may make it unsuitable in households with little ones who still believe in Santa’s magic.

An earnest, emotionally honest effort with lovely illustrations complementing a sweet if sentimental message. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-70030-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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