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From the Mister Shivers series , Vol. 2

Easy to read but definitely not easy to forget.

Five more spooky shorts from the haunting Mr. Shivers.

Yet another box is found at the pseudo-author’s doorstep along with a note that promises “strange and scary stories.” This time, the box contains a rusty padlock, an owl’s feather, a flashlight battery, fingernail clippings, and a tuft of red hair. Each item correlates to one of the ensuing tales, all told in the third person. Hugh walks home late from school one night and encounters an owl—or is it a monster? Ruby drops her flashlight while looking for a creature under her bed. Tommy, a habitual fingernail chewer, starts using his teeth on other people. Sophie writes a message on the wall of her new room and gets an odd reply. Finally, there’s something—“SCRATCH-SCRATCH”—behind Emma’s locker. Brallier effectively repeats the screamworthy formula established in Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories (2019) to add a sense of familiarity to the foreboding. Rubegni’s full-color cartoon illustrations depict racially diverse schoolchildren. A combination of spot, panel, and full-page illustrations helps add drama to the pacing. The abrupt, disquieting endings mix the creepy and weird with the genuinely terrifying, creating a nice balance as readers jump bravely between stories. Each page has around 50 words or less, with longer paragraphs broken up with ample leading and spacing. The final page includes drawing instructions and a short creative writing prompt.

Easy to read but definitely not easy to forget. (Early reader/horror. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-61541-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Gives “friend” a disquieting nuance.

On the spur of the moment, anyone can make a mistake.

In a twist on Eric Carle’s classic Do You Want to Be My Friend? (1971) and the many like-themed quests trailing in its wake, a suddenly friendless yellow monster makes the titular confession, mourns, and then goes in search of a new companion. Following a string of refusals that range from “No, you are too big,” and “No, you are too scary” (not to mention a terse “No”) to a terrifying, page filling “Rrrooar!” the monster begins to lose heart. Will it be lonely forever? But, no fears, a suitable (teal) candidate sidles up at last: “Hello! I will be your friend.” Cue the warm smiles and clasped paws…until a page turn reveals only the new arrival, guiltily admitting, “I just ate my friend.” Arranged in simple compositions and positioned for maximum comic effect, McKinnon’s monsters don’t look at all feral (although the protagonist does have a mouthful of sharp teeth, they are very tiny, commanding much less attention than its large, googly eyes and potato-shaped body), so the summary fate of the yellow one may come as a surprise (at least the first time through) to audiences who expect a more-conventional ending. Readers who prefer their comedy on the dark side à la Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back (2011) or Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross’ Tadpole’s Promise (2005) will relish this alternative outcome.

Gives “friend” a disquieting nuance. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1032-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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It might be fun once, but Numeroff really holds a corner on this particular market.

If you give an imp a penny, he’ll ask for a glass of milk—er, a “coin bag” to go with it.

Shamelessly borrowed from the iconic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (the authors thank Laura Numeroff in the dedication), this anemic reflection moves the story to a vaguely medieval and magical realm. The imp in question is orange and sort of pointy all over, and his fellow protagonist is a young white girl with long skirts and a snowy white apron. When he gets his penny and buries it in the yard with a borrowed shovel, he makes such a mess that she asks him to clean up. The imp sets the broom on fire, repairs it with straw from her mattress, and makes a collar for the cat—who does not take it, or the subsequent bath, well. But our heroine gives the imp her last apple, and he conjures up some gold coins in gratitude. That makes him think of his buried penny—and probably asking for another one. There’s not a lot of logic here: why would he even ask for a penny if he can conjure up treasure? The pictures have a quality of Disney animation about them, lively and familiar-looking without much verve.

It might be fun once, but Numeroff really holds a corner on this particular market. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2144-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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