Inventors and pie lovers will find this one delicious.

THE THREE MOUTHS OF LITTLE TOM DRUM

Little Tom Drum’s love of strawberry pie leads to a lot more than he bargained for.

Willard spins a modern fairy tale about a boy, his gluttony for strawberry pie and one careless wish. When 8-year-old Little Tom Drum wishes for three mouths so he can eat more pie, he wakes up to find two extra mouths, one in his left cheek and one in his right, which makes him look like a monster to his parents. They feel they cannot send their boy to school and hire a tutor to work with their son. In between reading books on “mathematics and giraffes and gardening,” Little Tom Drum learns about the world and creates amazing inventions with items found around his house in a workshop built by his father. On his ninth birthday, a box with a wishing machine arrives on his doorstep, and Little Tom Drum carefully puts it together and, much more carefully this time, makes his wish. While waiting for his wish to come true, he discovers his real gift: solving others’ problems with his inventive mind. Hawkes’ detailed pen-and-ink–and-pastel illustrations extend Willard’s deadpan humor with just enough creepiness. (Three mouths turn out to be remarkably unnerving.)  The old-time clothing adds to the fairy-tale feel. Fans of Hawkes’ illustrations for Paul Fleischman’s Weslandia (1999) will find welcome connections here.

Inventors and pie lovers will find this one delicious. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5476-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along.

THE CRAYONS TRICK OR TREAT

The Crayons return in time for Halloween as vampire-costumed Purple coaches the dressed-up wax pack through its first trick-or-treating venture.

It takes five houses’ worth of door-knocks for this skeleton crew of seven to perfect the protocol, with enough outlandish flubs to generate giggles in Halloween-savvy preschoolers. At Door No. 1, Orange, dressed as a jack-o’-lantern, says, “Give us your candy, Lady.” At the next, the gang, encouraged by Purple to “think holiday,” responds with an impressive array of misguided greetings, including “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy American Cheese Month!” Later, White, levitating impressively in a ghost costume, overreacts to Halloween’s “scary” aspect by overwhelming residents with a “BOO!” Peach, unnamed here but recognizably wrapperless from the initial title, exuberantly (and inappropriately) repeats, “I’m naked!” Finally, the troupe perfects its treat-inducing line, though a certain ghost cannot resist an ad lib. This excursion, like many of the holiday-themed Crayon books, has a smaller trim size, a lower price point, and far less complexity than Daywalt and Jeffers’ first two Crayon titles. Still, the pair deftly let young children in on the jokes through funny, hand-lettered dialogue and the visually telegraphed, all-in haplessness of this well-branded band. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A laugh-inducing Halloween read-along. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-62102-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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