Warm, smart and educational.

THE MONSTERJUNKIES

AN AMERICAN FAMILY ODYSSEY

From Shein (Gods and Angels, 2013) and Gates comes the YA tale of a family for whom cryptozoology is a way of life.

Ninth-grader Cromwell “Crow” Monsterjunkie lives with his family near Foggy Point, Maine. His parents, Talon and Pandora, use their mansion as a sanctuary for rare and endangered creatures, including Beau the sasquatch, Chico the chupacabra and Periwinkle the pterodactyl. Quiet Crow doesn’t make friends easily—unlike his older sister, Indigo—partly because of the burden of secrecy that comes with being a Monsterjunkie; if the public knew about their rare creatures, chaos might descend on the family. And yet, since adolescence comes with enough inner turmoil, Talon and Pandora allow their children to begin inviting small groups of trusted friends to tour their elaborate property, which has a laboratory, Varmint Hollow and the Weird Willow tree. Life grows tense, however, when a group of bullying classmates, led by the viciously entitled Ruth Grimes, start targeting Crow, Indigo and their new friends. Worse, in an attempt to make the town safer for real Americans, Ruth’s wealthy father decides to stir up trouble for the animal-loving Monsterjunkies. In dealing with the bullies, Crow must choose to either sink to their level or rise above it, his family’s secrets at stake. Herpetologist Shein and co-author Gates wrap a classic tale of conformity in some gorgeously gothic paper. Sprinkled throughout are great tidbits of cryptozoology: “The gorilla and the giant squid were both thought to be myths, yet in fact, are quite real.” Lighthearted humor is the primary tone elsewhere; Beau the eloquent sasquatch, for example, says he was “frankly, well, a little embarrassed” to be naked while scaring some trespassers. Later, the authors hope to rally the parents of actual bullied children—whether it involves common nastiness or homophobia—with the advice that “all it takes is a heroic kid to step in...to disrupt the situation.” Facebook bullying, unfortunately, proves tougher to handle. Though the ending feels abrupt, a second book awaits fans craving another fix of Crow and company.

Warm, smart and educational.

Pub Date: March 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0615990156

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Ark Watch Holdings LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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