VAMPIRE TROUBLE

From the Monster Itch series , Vol. 2

Mild monster exposure for kids just dipping their toes in creepy.

Following Ghost Attack (2017), a new spooky encounter triggers Alex’s allergies.

White Alex is on the verge of setting a new kickball home-run record. But there’s a new (exceptionally pale) recess monitor that the kids nickname Gloomy Girl, and suddenly Alex can’t stop sneezing—explosions so big they don’t just impede his kickball game, but also bring on massive, sequential humiliations. Field day is coming up, and Alex’s plan to win a trophy with his kickball skills is jeopardized by his allergies. His white cousin Sarah attempts to talk to the monitor to straighten things out only to learn that Gloomy Girl can speak directly into minds and controls an army of rats. The cousins consult The Big Book of Monsters and follow up with internet research (there’s a savvy subplot on how to evaluate online sources), determining that she’s a vampire capable of being outside on cloudy days. But they need to solve the allergy fast—Alex’s parents want to come watch field day, and if his allergist mother sees him sneezing she could pull him from all sports. Lubar’s second in his horror-lite chapter-book series features a likable protagonist whose loopy problem is, though exaggerated, similar enough to real-world ones suffered by many kids to make him easy to connect to. The agreeably zany plot winds its way to a conclusion that even includes reconciliation with a school bully.

Mild monster exposure for kids just dipping their toes in creepy. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-87349-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

MONSTER AND BOY

From the Monster and Boy series , Vol. 1

No need to be afraid of monsters after reading this sweet and unusual friendship story.

A boy discovers that monsters are real—and that one lives under his bed.

The monster and the boy—no names given—share a bedroom, but they have never met. The monster is nocturnal and has lived under the boy’s bed for many years; he knows the sound of the boy’s voice and loves the smell of his dirty socks. One night the boy’s mother reads her son a book about monsters, and she tells him that there is no such thing as monsters. Knowing this is untrue, the monster decides to introduce himself. Predictably, this doesn’t go as well as the monster expects, and when the boy screams, the monster swallows him in a panic. This is distressing for both the monster (who just lost his only friend) and the boy (who now finds himself trapped inside a stomach). Eventually the monster coughs the boy out—only to discover the boy is now grasshopper-sized. Humor ensues. In archly amusing fashion, the author breaks the fourth wall—this is marked by teal-colored page backgrounds—reassuring readers during potentially scary parts of the book, filling in background details, or collegially including them in aspects of the storytelling. Teal-flecked grayscale cartoons appear on almost every page, making this a solid choice for new independent readers. As depicted on the cover, the boy has tightly coiled brown curls and pink skin.

No need to be afraid of monsters after reading this sweet and unusual friendship story. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21783-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Godwin Books

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

THERE WAS AN OLD MERMAID WHO SWALLOWED A SHARK!

Series fans won’t be disappointed, but young readers and listeners who know only the original ditty may find this a touch...

Having eaten pretty much everything on land in 13 previous versions of the classic song, Colandro’s capaciously stomached oldster goes to sea.

Once again the original cumulative rhyme’s naturalistic aspects are dispensed with, so that not only doesn’t the old lady die, but neither do any of the creatures she consumes. Instead, the titular shark “left no mark,” a squid follows down the hatch to “float with the shark,” a fish to “dance with the squid,” an eel to “brighten the fish” (with “fluorescent light!” as a subsequent line explains), and so on—until at the end it’s revealed to be all pretending anyway on a visit to an aquarium. Likewise, though Lee outfits the bespectacled binge-eater with a finny tail and the requisite bra for most of the extended episode, she regains human feet and garb at the end. In the illustrations, the old lady and one of the two children who accompany her are pink-skinned; the other has frizzy hair and an amber complexion. A set of nature notes on the featured victims and a nautical seek-and-find that will send viewers back to the earlier pictures modestly enhance this latest iteration.

Series fans won’t be disappointed, but young readers and listeners who know only the original ditty may find this a touch bland. (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-12993-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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