A girl punished on Halloween devises a clever plan to get some treats in this picture book.
Zara “Zee” Harerra Lago, a girl with dark skin and hair who wears square glasses and braids, can’t believe it when her parents discipline her on Halloween for some misbehavior. But they mean it, and Zee has to miss out on trick-or-treating and the next day’s classroom candy exchange. She gathers her friends to listen to her tale of how on Halloween night, she escaped from a jungle filled with dangerous beasts headed this way: “I know the jungle and this is a fact: / When people get tooken they never come back!” She’ll trade her survival secret for candy—and they’d better hurry, because a purple monster (a student named DB in costume) is already here. The two schemers enjoy their loot, but as the story ends, Zee’s parents are onto her. Byrd (Sunny Days, 2018, etc.) offers a delightful, mischievous heroine whose shenanigans are reminiscent of when Tom Sawyer bamboozles friends into whitewashing a fence. The verse is strong (although line endings don’t always correspond with the rhymes) and amusing, which keeps the book from being too scary. The animals get wonderfully original descriptions, such as the giant zebra with “skin like a barcode.” Meissner’s (Chris Drops a Bomb!, 2018) illustrations vividly depict people and animals and include good background details, such as Zee’s monster posters.
A charmingly naughty, monster-loving heroine; effective verse; and appealing illustrations shine in this Halloween tale.