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)