Simplified spooks for the we-want-it-just-scary-enough crowd.

READ REVIEW

BENEATH THE BED AND OTHER SCARY STORIES

From the Mister Shivers series , Vol. 1

A series debut with five screamworthy short stories.

Acquired from a strange box left at pseudo-author Mr. Shivers’ doorstep, the tales are initially introduced via a note to readers. Presented in a mix of first- and third-person narration, the tales run the gamut of eerie episodes. Classmates dare siblings John and Beth to visit a haunted house at night. A child feels a hair in the bottom of their stomach. A creepy statue draped with a tattered quilt haunts a living room. Oliver leaves his toys outside in the rain, but when he looks outside they’ve moved. Lucy hears scraping at the window at night, but mom and dad say it’s just a tree. Brallier’s (The Last Kids on Earth and the Cosmic Beyond, 2018, etc.) strong horror chops translate well into this Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark–lite package for early chapter-book readers. Rubegni mixes high-contrast spot and full-page illustrations, positioning sharply outlined characters against smudgy charcoal backgrounds. The atmospheric, full-color illustrations also aid in decoding. Each page contains fewer than 10 sentences; longer sentences are broken up in multiple lines with ample leading. Occasional words are set in boldface for emphasis and add a little extra thrill factor to the well-paced plots. The final page includes instructions on how to draw Oliver’s teddy bear as well as a few simple creative prompts.

Simplified spooks for the we-want-it-just-scary-enough crowd. (Early reader/horror. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-31853-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Acorn/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Parenting skills come in handy even for immense, green, fire-breathing monsters.

GARGANTUA (JR!)

DEFENDER OF EARTH

A little kaiju yearns to join its mom in saving Earth and other good deeds.

It seems the narrator’s mom at one time was “a little…wild” (“Where did you even find that?” she exclaims, rolling her eyes at a collection of clippings with headlines like “GARGANTUA STRIKES AGAIN”). But now she helps out by resetting knocked-over buildings, tickling rampaging space robots into acquiescence, and blasting the occasional giant asteroid before it hits with her fiery atomic breath. “I want to grow up to be just like my mom,” proclaims the cute little narrator—who chafes at being allowed to cheer her exploits only from a distance. The diminutive lizard-monster therefore determinedly sets out to prove that it’s not a baby any more. Fortunately, Mom comes through in the clutch. After saving her overly ambitious mite from being smooshed beneath the condemned skyscraper it manages to knock down, instead of meting out punishment she cannily suggests that maybe they should work together from then on. “And that’s just what we do,” the dinky dino concludes, adding a pint-sized blast to its mom’s roaring exhalation. Only carping critics will complain that Sylvester models his round-headed narrator and its smiling, much bigger single parent more on Godzilla and Godzilla Jr. than the Gargantua of film in his cartoon pictures. They are missing out on terrific fun.

Parenting skills come in handy even for immense, green, fire-breathing monsters. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-182-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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This title could be a fit for those kids whose imaginations occasionally run amok or those whose memories of actual events...

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, MY BROTHER HAS A MONSTER!

A boy is horrified as his older brother collects increasing numbers of scary and creepy creatures—and brings them all in the house!

Nesbitt delivers this overlong cumulative tale in a series of rhyming couplets. The awestruck younger brother narrates. “It happened just last Halloween, / the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen: / My brother went out after dark / and found a monster in the park.” Soon two hairy spiders, three rats, four toads, five black cats, and so on have invaded their house. The younger brother repeats, “I hope our parents don’t find out,” at the end of each new iteration. The text describes the mayhem that ensues while Slonim has fun giving the various animals hilarious expressions with his cartoon illustrations. Finally the dreaded moment comes when the parents arrive. But instead of gruesome unwanted visitors, there is a menagerie of more welcome inhabitants, including caterpillars, butterflies, geckos, kittens, and gerbils. The original monster that started the story is “a shaggy dog, just big and hairy.” The story takes yet another surprise twist after this one, and with few clues as to its internal logic, readers may find themselves scratching their heads.

This title could be a fit for those kids whose imaginations occasionally run amok or those whose memories of actual events get wildly embellished. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-65059-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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