Readers of the first book will be pleased with the continuing adventures of Abigail and Reginald, but others may want to...

PEANUT BUTTER & ALIENS

A ZOMBIE CULINARY TALE

The follow-up to Peanut Butter & Brains (2015) adds an interstellar element but shows that sandwich snacks can be universal.

In the town of Quirkville, living people and the undead enjoy a peaceful cohabitation. But when one-eyed green aliens demanding, “SPLOINK!?” arrive and begin shooting up the town with “cosmic grape jelly,” heroes Abigail Zink and zombie Reginald save the day with the only complementary sandwich spread (hint: it’s in the title) that will please them. As with the first book, Abigail and Reginald make a winning team, and the zombies are illustrated as cute, if a little stitched-up and gray-blue in skin tone. (Abigail is white, but the other living inhabitants of Quirkville show pleasing diversity.) But what was fizzy and fun in the first book may seem like a loose mishmash (zombies and aliens and food culture) to readers new to the concept. And the aliens themselves lack the charm of the zombies; they’re tentacled and Popsicle-shaped with sprouting antennae and potato-shaped blasters, a not-particularly-original imagining. If the aliens seem gimmicky, especially for a story set in Quirkville, the story at least has a feel-good ending free of peanut allergies, which apparently aren’t a thing in outer space.

Readers of the first book will be pleased with the continuing adventures of Abigail and Reginald, but others may want to pick that volume first or bypass this alien sighting entirely. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2530-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available.

THE LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT

A ghost learns to appreciate his differences.

The little ghost protagonist of this title is unusual. He’s a quilt, not a lightweight sheet like his parents and friends. He dislikes being different despite his mom’s reassurance that his ancestors also had unconventional appearances. Halloween makes the little ghost happy, though. He decides to watch trick-or-treaters by draping over a porch chair—but lands on a porch rail instead. A mom accompanying her daughter picks him up, wraps him around her chilly daughter, and brings him home with them! The family likes his looks and comforting warmth, and the little ghost immediately feels better about himself. As soon as he’s able to, he flies out through the chimney and muses happily that this adventure happened only due to his being a quilt. This odd but gently told story conveys the importance of self-respect and acceptance of one’s uniqueness. The delivery of this positive message has something of a heavy-handed feel and is rushed besides. It also isn’t entirely logical: The protagonist could have been a different type of covering; a blanket, for instance, might have enjoyed an identical experience. The soft, pleasing illustrations’ palette of tans, grays, white, black, some touches of color, and, occasionally, white text against black backgrounds suggest isolation, such as the ghost feels about himself. Most humans, including the trick-or-treating mom and daughter, have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 66.2% of actual size.)

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6447-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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