Don’t text and drive—or fly. In his debut picture book, Jordan shows that it’s a lesson a witch is never too young to learn.
Annica lives on One Creepy Street, where her neighbors are “wizards and lizards and a mean old warlock. / Some were weird and others plain scary, / A few had retired including an evil tooth fairy.” When she turns 13, her mother lets her set off on a new broom all by herself, but warns her to keep her eyes on the road—well, the sky—and her hands off her phone. It’s easy to guess how long young Annica’s resolve lasts on that count. Almost immediately, she crashes out of the sky and finds herself looking into the frightening face of Officer Tate. The one-eyed policeman “gnawed on the [rotten] apple with his jaw set firm, / and between his teeth was crawling one-half of a worm.” Jordan doesn’t shy away from details that young readers will find deliciously creepy. Officer Tate takes Annica to find someone on One Creepy Street who can help her fix her broom. A purplish troll chained to a bridge “snorted and grumped and swatted a nagging horse fly. / The carcass fell into the pan, a new seasoning to try.” But the troll refuses to help her, as does Mort the Mortician and a diabolical fallen elf who delights in breaking limbs off dolls. Annica’s plight prompts the elf toward his own epiphany: He’s sick of being bad and willing to help her out, if it means a chance to go back to the North Pole. In any case, as Officer Tate points out, Annica has learned her lesson. Jordan creates a satisfyingly detailed world on One Creepy Street, filled with characters who could have been easy clichés but are instead fresh and a little bit funny. He keeps the creep factor age-appropriate, while giving gross-out–loving kids exactly what they want. The singsong tone wears thin, and there are places where the meanings of words are stretched a tad too far just to make a rhyme, but the plot and characters move quickly enough to carry the book, and the brightly colored illustrations feature characters with extremely detailed and expressive faces.
An enjoyable book for young readers ready for mild scares.