Even the branding may not be enough to entice readers.




The truth is out there…but will Dana and Fox find it?

Young Dana and Fox are camping out in the backyard. Just as Dana finishes reading from a book called The X-Files, there’s a blinding light outside their tent. The kids investigate, but it’s only the floodlight. Fox sees a terrifying alien-shaped shadow…but it’s just Buster the dog trying to get a squirrel. Giant footprint? Dana explains it’s the start of a new swimming pool. A horrifying sound from beyond the fence? The duo investigates the dark woods with Buster and discover it’s just an old tire swing and an owl. Dana assures Fox that UFO talk is “crazy” talk, but neither sees the crashed flying saucer in the shadows or the giant, reptilian ET following them down the path. Back at the tent, they unzip the flap and find two tiny green ETs reading their books! The two white, human kids scream and run inside, while the two green extraterrestrial kids scream and run for the woods. Dana and Fox run up the stairs past parents watching TV…but are those really Dana’s parents? Rekulak’s envisioned sleepover between the two future paranormal investigators is impossible in the mythos of The X-Files, as Mulder and Scully didn’t meet until adulthood, a liberty that may well drive the adult fans who are the natural audience for this book up the wall. Smith’s digitally created, enticingly spooky cartoon illustrations help to tell the story, the text of which is set entirely in speech bubbles (the ET script is an amusing touch). Kids won’t know the characters’ back story (front story?) and fans may balk, but the tale, familiar in its broad outlines, may still entertain.

Even the branding may not be enough to entice readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59474-979-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)


Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones.


From the The Binder of Doom series , Vol. 2

In the second installment of the Binder of Doom series, readers will reconnect with Alexander Bopp, who leads the Super Secret Monster Patrol, a group of mutant children who protect the citizens of their beloved town of Stermont.

His friends Nikki and Rip rejoin him to add new monsters and adventures to their ever growing binder of monsters. As in series opener Brute-Cake (2019), Alexander and his friends attend the local library’s summer program, this time for “maker-camp.” They are assigned a Maker Challenge, in which each camper is to “make a machine that performs a helpful task”; meanwhile, mechanical equipment is being stolen all over Stermont. Unfortunately, the pacing and focus of the book hop all over the place. The titular boa constructor (a two-headed maker-minded snake and the culprit behind the thefts) is but one of many monsters introduced here, appearing more than two-thirds of the way through the story—just after the Machine Share-Time concludes the maker-camp plotline. (Rip’s “most dangerous” invention does come in handy at the climax.) The grayscale illustrations add visuals that will keep early readers engaged despite the erratic storyline; they depict Alexander with dark skin and puffy hair and Nikki and Rip with light skin. Monster trading cards are interleaved with the story.

Returning fans will be happy to see their friends, but this outing's unlikely to win them new ones. (Paranormal adventure. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31469-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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