Even if it doesn’t send kids straight off to dreamland, it will keep them looking; snuggled close with a grown-up, that’s...

READ REVIEW

EVEN MONSTERS NEED TO SLEEP

Rhyming text and detailed, fantastic art invite readers to follow along with little monster’s bedtime reading.

The bedtime routine begins on wraparound jacket art that shows a little blue monster clad in a pink nightgown running away to the right on the front cover from her father, who pursues her from the back cover. In the frontmatter pages she first runs away toward the page turn on the title page and then is dragged, crying, into the book proper from the recto dedication page. The first page of the book proper shows her now calm and cuddled up in bed with her dad reading a book. Ensuing pages appear to be from the book they’re reading as they depict a series of fantastic creatures heading off to bed. The verse is usually written as three rhyming lines, with a fourth line breaking the rhyme and reading “Even Bigfoot needs to sleep” but substituting the word “Bigfoot” with “dragons” or “bridge trolls” or “giants” and so on. The gouache illustrations employ a saturated, vivid palette that isn’t at all restful in busy compositions filled with detail (three-legged ET’s in union suits; Frankenstein’s playful kitten). But moments like the spare, wordless final page or the spreads depicting a Yeti and a giant help give rest for the eyes.

Even if it doesn’t send kids straight off to dreamland, it will keep them looking; snuggled close with a grown-up, that’s not all bad. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-236640-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Funny though the illustrations are and loving though the text is, the book falls short due to lack of nuance.

BECAUSE I'M YOUR DAD

Unabashed sentimentality dominates the text in this loving promise from a father to his child.

What saves this title from being just a syrupy pronouncement are the characters. Santat has good fun creating scenes for two hairy, horned monsters, the dad pickle green and the child a pleasing purple. The somewhat cuddly pair is comically shown participating in their less-than-ordinary activities like “having spaghetti for breakfast, French toast for dinner, and rocky road ice cream in the bathtub.” They play with robots, listen to really loud music, burp like champions and miss school to visit New York to share a hot dog. Readers will smile at the low-key humor in the pictures. The page stating, “Because I’m your dad, you can sometimes stay up late with me to watch TV” depicts the father asleep while the child sits on the sofa terrified by what is on the screen. Warm moments abound, as when little monster is rolled up by her father in a blanket like a burrito or when the dad checks the closet and under the bed for monsters. Zappa wrote this story for his daughter, and it overflows with genuine fatherly affection that he would like to pass on, since his father (avant-garde rocker Frank Zappa) did the same for him.

Funny though the illustrations are and loving though the text is, the book falls short due to lack of nuance. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4231-4774-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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A metafictive treat.

I WILL CHOMP YOU!

Never mind a monster at the end, there’s a monster all the way through this book!

Starting on Page 1, the protagonist monster uses direct address to warn readers not to turn any pages. The book’s very title reveals the threat behind this warning, and Shea’s toothy monster—all mouth and head and bluster—seems ready to follow through with it. Disobeying the command provokes metafictive peril as warnings to readers persist, and various small creatures depicted on the page (a bird, a frog, and a wee bunny) flee its chomping jaws. The monster misses both them and disobedient readers, growing increasingly angry. Clever illustration choices make it seem as though the monster has chomped through the pages of the book, and soon its commands devolve into pleading. Why? “It’s because I have all my cakes back here, at the end of the book,” the greedy monster explains. In a fiendish ploy to trick readers, the monster offers to share, saying, “just come a little closer…” and a page turn reveals (yet another) “CHOMP!” Defeated, the monster resigns itself to readers’ progress toward the end of the book, and it chomps up all the cakes, leaving it with the just deserts of a bellyache. Throughout, Shea’s vibrant, silly pictures diminish the scariness of the story’s premise and deliver humorous characterization.

A metafictive treat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38986-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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