A true, monstrous success! (Picture book. 5-9)


A been-there-done-that just-try-to-impress-me boy gets his wish to “be something screamingly scary. / Something fanged and foul and terribly hairy!”

“Master Edgar Dreadbury found Halloween a bore.” He’s not interested in costumes—he seeks transformation. A mysterious machine called the MONSTERATOR—a cross between a sideshow amusement and a steampunk invention—beckons. After much rumbling, clanging and hissing, the machine disgorges Edgar, now a fearsome roaring monster. With horns, grimacing purple face, orange brows and green reptilian hands, feet and tail, he is a frightening sight—and he loves it. Although he tries to find the machine after Halloween to reverse the transformation, he is unsuccessful. Happily, he soon grows “fond of his freakish new features” and to “[relish] his role as a monstrous creature.” Graves dares here to explore a child’s dark side, and the result is a refreshingly original yet wondrously creepy tale. Superb for reading aloud, the story also poses topics for discussion. Why does he want to frighten everyone so much? Should you be careful about what you wish for? Readers throughout the book are rewarded with moody gray scenes punctuated with bright hues to draw focus to the machine or the monster, greatly enhancing this page-turner. Though it’s already eerily impressive with its elegant design, an added treat is a paper version of a monsterator with a flippable split-page novelty element at the book’s end.

A true, monstrous success! (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59643-855-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.


From the I Need My Monster series

In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.

As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.

Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947277-09-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A solid guidebook to shelve with similar tomes on caring for monsters, trolls, fairies, dragons, and the like.


Green’s picture-book debut is a guidebook that will be useful for anyone lucky enough to meet a ghost.

Indeed, the author stresses that you can look forever and not find a ghost, but if you are “sweet, warm, and kind…a ghost may find you.” The first section introduces a few “Ghost Basics” and do’s and don’ts. The second is devoted to “Ghost Care,” and it’s sure to garner the most Ewww’s from readers, especially when they read some of the things ghosts like to eat. “Growing Together,” the final section, addresses some of the issues you and your ghost will face as you grow up: moving to a new house, working, having a family, and growing old. The final illustration is poignant, as the girl pictured throughout is now a ghost herself, holding hands with her friend as they float over a new gravestone: “you’ll be friends even after the end.” The gouache, colored pencil, and digital illustrations have a sophisticated, rather adult aesthetic. The girl is more woman than child, and she is sometimes awkwardly portrayed, especially her ears and her expressions. Both she and the ghost are paper-white with pink cheeks, and the palette is limited to black, white, gray, brown, a rusty orange, and a pinkish red.

A solid guidebook to shelve with similar tomes on caring for monsters, trolls, fairies, dragons, and the like. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-91901-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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