An enjoyable book for young readers ready for mild scares.

ONE CREEPY STREET

ANNICA'S BROOM

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. 

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

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Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone.

THE CHRISTMAS PIG

A 7-year-old descends into the Land of the Lost in search of his beloved comfort object.

Jack has loved Dur Pig long enough to wear the beanbag toy into tattered shapelessness—which is why, when his angry older stepsister chucks it out the car window on Christmas Eve, he not only throws a titanic tantrum and viciously rejects the titular replacement pig, but resolves to sneak out to find DP. To his amazement, the Christmas Pig offers to guide him to the place where all lost Things go. Whiffs of childhood classics, assembled with admirable professionalism into a jolly adventure story that plays all the right chords, hang about this tale of loss and love. Along with family drama, Rowling stirs in fantasy, allegory, and generous measures of social and political commentary. Pursued by the Land’s cruel and monstrous Loser, Jack and the Christmas Pig pass through territories from the Wastes of the Unlamented, where booger-throwing Bad Habits roam, to the luxurious City of the Missed for encounters with Hope, Happiness, and Power (a choleric king who rejects a vote that doesn’t go his way). A joyful reunion on the Island of the Beloved turns poignant, but Christmas Eve being “a night for miracles and lost causes,” perhaps there’s still a chance (with a little help from Santa) for everything to come right? In both the narrative and Field’s accomplished, soft-focus illustrations, the cast presents White.

Plays to Rowling’s fan base; equally suited for gifting and reading aloud or alone. (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-79023-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S HALLOWEEN

A lift-the-flap book gives the littlest trick-or-treaters some practice identifying partygoers under their costumes.

Little Blue Truck and his buddy Toad are off to a party, and they invite readers (and a black cat) along for the ride: “ ‘Beep! Beep! Beep!’ / says Little Blue. / ‘It’s Halloween!’ / You come, too.” As they drive, they are surprised (and joined) by many of their friends in costume. “Who’s that in a tutu / striking a pose / up on the tiniest / tips of her toes? / Under the mask / who do you see?” Lifting the flap unmasks a friend: “ ‘Quack!’ says the duck. / ‘It’s me! It’s me!’ ” The sheep is disguised as a clown, the cow’s a queen, the pig’s a witch, the hen and her chick are pirates, and the horse is a dragon. Not to be left out, Little Blue has a costume, too. The flaps are large and sturdy, and enough of the animals’ characteristic features are visible under and around the costumes that little ones will be able to make successful guesses even on the first reading. Lovely curvy shapes and autumn colors fade to dusky blues as night falls, and children are sure to notice the traditional elements of a Halloween party: apple bobbing, lit jack-o’-lanterns, and punch and treats.

Beloved Little Blue takes a bit of the mystery—and fear—out of Halloween costumes. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-77253-3

Page Count: 16

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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