Halloween has not been as shivery, silly, and satisfying as in this polar romp.


From the Tacky the Penguin series

While his friends busy themselves getting the igloo ready for Halloween, Tacky the Penguin is less than helpful.

Lester and Munsinger continue their popular, long-running series with another tale about lovable Tacky. Although the other penguins get a bit exasperated when he samples all of the treats of “yummy gummy Swedish fish, batcicles, and awful waffles,” they do want him to participate in the Halloween festivities. The penguins decide to choose costumes that reflect what scares them the most. Readers will either relate to or giggle at their choices: an insect, the dark, a monster, “a stormy outfit,” and bubbles. But Tacky cannot decide on what to wear, so he goes off to think. In the meantime, a long line of trick-or-treaters arrives at the haunted igloo—everything goes wonderfully until there is a commotion at the door. When three huge ghosts swoop in, the penguins quickly learn they are their feared predators. The two wolves and the bear begin to tear the igloo apart looking for treats. If all the sweets are gone—and they are, thanks to Tacky—they are “gonna catch some pretty penguins / And we’ll grab ’em by the toe / And we’ll plop ’em in our treatsie bags / Hodey ho ho.” Luckily, Tacky has selected a very scary costume in the nick of time—one that ends up frightening the trio of bullies so much they run away.

Halloween has not been as shivery, silly, and satisfying as in this polar romp. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33994-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.


What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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