A solid but unexceptional rhyming story about conquering one’s nighttime fears.

BEDTIME FOR BEASTIES

In a surreal dreamscape filled with colorful monsters, a child’s initial fright turns to whimsy upon realizing they are in control of their own destiny.

A pajama-clad child and T. Rex sidekick suddenly appear in a dark, foreboding landscape, watched by eyes hidden among the plants. But as monsters and fairies emerge, so does a…Harley Davidson? The child-narrator quickly understands that this is just a dream, and in rhyming couplets, the story turns fanciful as the child starts to boss the monsters around. Soon, they are working on a Hollywood-style movie with the monsters as the cast and crew, the child as director, and dino as assistant. Finally, they collapse in a tired heap, leaving the child back in bed, snuggling with the stuffed dino. It takes a few pages for the poetry to find its stride, as if the frightening first spreads were not part of the text proper. Staub also initially plays with language, delaying the rhyme with a page turn or pre-empting an obvious rhyme with a surprise word. However, these fillips are more distracting than clever, and it isn’t until the poetry (and the protagonist’s confidence) finds its stride that the book begins to charm. Illustrator Liu’s digital art looks hand-drawn, with a childlike sense of play that conveys the humor. The child has light skin and straight, black hair cut in a pageboy.

A solid but unexceptional rhyming story about conquering one’s nighttime fears. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59078-930-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.

HARDLY HAUNTED

What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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