A new student at Monster Academy turns out to be more than she seems.
The students at this school are definitely different from the norm, although the things they do will seem familiar. For instance, Miss Mummy makes a chart of the number of teeth each student has lost. (She speaks only in rhyme due to a curse, making the read-aloud switch between her dialogue and the rest of the text, which is in prose, a bit of a challenge.) Poor Vic, a vampire, is distraught to have lost no teeth, and he spends the day working at his wiggly fang. New student Tornado Jo, meanwhile, isn’t fitting in. The other monsters want her to behave. In the end, it’s revealed that she’s a human! And her behavior does start to change, but for no real discernible reason. Troubling messages hide within this rather slight tale: Vic is anxious to lose a tooth so he won’t be “a ZERO anymore,” and Jo is said to be “scary” and a “monster, too,” seemingly because of her behavior. But her obstinacy, peremptory ways, and dizzying energy can seem like the actions of children with oppositional defiant disorder or ADHD—in other words, not monstrous. McKinley’s illustrations play up the goofiness of the various monster students and their school, which is rather monsterlike in its own right.
Skip; there is little good that kids will learn at Monster Academy. (Picture book. 4-8)