Brimming with macabre portraits and gross humor, Brown’s carousel emboldens young readers to find fun in things that go bump...

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THE GHOSTLY CAROUSEL

DELIGHTFULLY FRIGHTFUL POEMS

An offbeat menagerie of spooky light-verse poems.

Brown’s 17 tightly rhymed poems, presented in mostly double-page spreads, feature all kinds of otherworldly creatures and things. Witches and warlocks, the “Creeping Crud” and a cannibal’s fingery fondue, fictional characters such as Dr. Jekyll and Medusa, Brown’s boldly illustrated subjects—all are painted with his signature childlike detail in rich, earthy oranges, purples, greens, and black, and they engage in some icky escapades to which children might yet relate. For instance, a “zombie named Joel” attempts to dig himself deep into a literal hole, desperately trying to “escape / from the family reunion,” where his “zombified aunts, / lost in a trance,” and laden with “scorpions, / leeches, / and slugs” are “lurching / and searching / for hugs.” Another “big, big fan / of the dark and dank” is Hank. “A deep thinker, / Hank the spelunker / is entranced by caves” and summed up as being a “funny little dude” who thinks “grubs and larvae / make marvelous food”; the page turn then reveals Hank’s stomach-churning recipe for “Insect Pie.” Employing clever puns and unexpected end rhyme, Brown creates as engaging an aural experience as a visual one.

Brimming with macabre portraits and gross humor, Brown’s carousel emboldens young readers to find fun in things that go bump in the night. (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5124-2661-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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With this ode to music and mermaids, McShane deftly uses old stories to create a lyrical, satisfying new one. (author’s note)

RÓNÁN AND THE MERMAID

A TALE OF OLD IRELAND

A contemporary Irish seanchaí, or storyteller, uses a bit of historical text from 558 C.E.—the Annals of the Four Masters—to fashion a story about a wondrous creature from the sea.

In this story, Brother Declan finds an unconscious boy on the rugged shore of Belfast Lough near Bangor Abbey, an early monastic community in Ireland. When the kind monks treat Rónán, he tells them of his rescue from the sea by “the lady with the golden hair.” He explains that “she sang to me till we reached the shore,” gave him the silver ring he was found clutching, marked with an L, and “told me that one day I would help her.” As Rónán recovers, Brother Declan tells him ancient stories about selkies and singing mermaids, including Líban, who “roamed the lonesome seas” for three centuries. When the boy’s health is fully restored, he works alongside the monks, but he is enchanted by music. Wise Brother Declan makes him a harp, and Rónán becomes a musician. Fishing one day, he plays his harp, and “a lonesome song came in reply.” Líban surfaces and asks to be taken to the abbey, to be blessed by the abbot, who christens the mermaid Muirgen, “born of the sea.” The painterly illustrations, with their natural browns, greens, and blues, are somber but fit well with the traditional tone of the story. All characters appear to be white.

With this ode to music and mermaids, McShane deftly uses old stories to create a lyrical, satisfying new one. (author’s note)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0022-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A superior alternative to Goosebumps for elementary-age chill-seekers.

GHOST ATTACK

From the Monster Itch series , Vol. 1

A monster allergy may ruin Alex’s visit to his grandparents’.

Alex and his cousin Sarah are spending a week visiting their grandparents in their grandparents’ new house…except the house is very old. It is likely haunted, and that was actually a selling point for Alex’s writer grandmother and artist grandfather, who together write the twisted and scary comic book Little Grendella. The whole family appears to be white. When he enters his room, Alex has an immediate allergic reaction…but when he tries to duplicate the reaction in front of Sarah and his grandparents, nothing happens. The strange rash on his arms reappears later, and it becomes obvious he is allergic to a ghost that’s haunting the house. Only Sarah and Alex can see the strange phantom, and it can write in the rash on Alex’s arm (unsurprisingly, this does not feel good). The duo decides to clear up the business that is keeping the ghost on Earth. Can they do it alone? This ghost story kicks off Lubar’s new series of light spooky tales à la his Monsterrific Tales, though for a younger audience. Customarily excellent writing at the sentence level unspools an undemanding adventure carefully pitched to his audience. What’s light, foolish, and transparent to adults will be enjoyable to youngsters seeking slight chills with a smile or two along the way.

A superior alternative to Goosebumps for elementary-age chill-seekers. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-87348-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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