What with keeping the fridge stocked with slug mush and sour green milk, incidentals such as mud soap and fang paste seem downright ordinary—unlike the consequences of ignoring the emphatic “Don’t”s populating this unorthodox DIY manual: “massive monster tantrums.”
The six-step bedtime instructions are scrawled on wide-ruled school paper, detailing the biracial bunny-slippered protagonist’s superior strategizing skills. If the detailed formula is rigidly adhered to, the rowdy monster will allow itself to go from a soothing ice bath to bedtime story to screeching lullaby to, finally, sleep. OHora’s signature color palette and tongue-in-cheek retro illustrations with a matte finish bring Vega’s uneven story to uproarious life. The sheep sandwich heading for the cavernous maw looks appropriately terrified, in contrast to the tiny terrier worrying the gigantic, furred monster’s knees. From the parents (a shell-shocked black mom cradles her cringing white husband) to the exuberant grizzly-sized, pom-pom–sporting, rainbow-striped monster, the delightful characters revolve around a no-nonsense, brown-skinned child rocking her own pom-pom ’do. Regrettably, Vega tries too hard to be cute. There is a game of “toss-the-slime-ball,” the information that “monsters hate milk unless it’s sour and green and smells like dirty underwear,” and instructions to “read the freakiest, creepiest, scariest story from your bookshelf—screaming where appropriate”—it’s all just too much.
A few moments shine, but all in all an overstuffed effort. (Picture book. 4-6)