This monster mashup of a new-baby story and a creepy-creature competition doesn’t necessarily break new ground, but it’s...

THE MOST TERRIBLE OF ALL

A monster discovers that another creature’s horribleness just might outshine his.

Smugg, a horned, furry, purple monster, consults his magic mirror each day to confirm that he is the “most terrible one of all.” True to his name, he revels in his status and is troubled when one morning the mirror confides that a new arrival next door is “a million times more terrible.” Charging into the neighbors’ house, he confronts the beasts he finds there, but each denies being the most terrible. Then siblings Jaws and Claws point him in the right direction: upstairs to see their new sister. What follows is a takedown of mammoth proportions as the big-eyed, blue-spotted baby misbehaves mightily. The over-the-top actions pictured are made all the more humorous by the deadpan delivery of the text. Rhyming couplets and internal rhymes are interspersed throughout, and a few nonsense words appear, but much of the narrative unfolds in simple declarative sentences. The illustrations, created in acrylic and oil, emphasize the ooey, gooey textures of slime and drool and the sharp, shiny claws, fangs, and horns, but visual jokes, bright colors, and vaguely retro details keep things more amusing than alarming.

This monster mashup of a new-baby story and a creepy-creature competition doesn’t necessarily break new ground, but it’s likely to scare up a few giggles all the same. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1716-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference.

SOFIA VALDEZ, FUTURE PREZ

From the Questioneers series

Sofia Valdez proves that community organizers of any age can have a positive impact.

After a trash-heap eyesore causes an injury to her beloved abuelo, Sofia springs into action to bring big change to her neighborhood. The simple rhymes of the text follow Sofia on her journey from problem through ideas to action as she garners community support for an idyllic new park to replace the dangerous junk pile. When bureaucracy threatens to quash Sofia’s nascent plan, she digs deep and reflects that “being brave means doing the thing you must do, / though your heart cracks with fear. / Though you’re just in Grade Two.” Sofia’s courage yields big results and inspires those around her to lend a hand. Implied Latinx, Sofia and her abuelo have medium brown skin, and Sofia has straight brown hair (Abuelo is bald). Readers will recognize Iggy Peck, Rosie Revere, and Ada Twist from Beaty’s previous installments in the Questioneers series making cameo appearances in several scenes. While the story connects back to the title and her aptitude for the presidency in only the second-to-last sentence of the book, Sofia’s leadership and grit are themes throughout. Roberts’ signature illustration style lends a sense of whimsy; detailed drawings will have readers scouring each page for interesting minutiae.

Fun but earnest, this rhyming romp reminds readers that one young person can make a difference. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3704-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

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Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.

HOW I MET MY MONSTER

From the I Need My Monster series

In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.

As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.

Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947277-09-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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