“If a monster is tired and grumpy, send it to bed and say, ‘GO TO SLEEP!’ ” Like that would work.

MONSTER, BE GOOD!

A blatantly psychotherapeutic variation on Where the Wild Things Are and like empowerment fare.

An invisible narrator addresses young children: “Don’t be scared! You are in charge of the monsters. If you tell them how to behave, they will listen.” Depicting externalization in action, Marshall crowds each busily colored and patterned spread with mildly scary cartoon cousins of Ed Emberley’s Big Green Monster. They are all acting out or being selfish, mean or grumpy, but they are quickly brought into line with a corrective command like “Be quiet!”; “Sit still!”; or “Take turns!” Whether such direct orders will be more effective in real life coming from a child’s mouth than an irritated caregiver’s is anybody’s guess, but children (and, for that matter, parents) may derive some satisfaction from at least the pretense of authority that is offered here.

“If a monster is tired and grumpy, send it to bed and say, ‘GO TO SLEEP!’ ” Like that would work. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-60905-314-7

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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A humorous, somewhat unoriginal offering—for kids who prefer monsters to dinosaurs.

EVEN MONSTERS...

Who says monsters can only be frightful?

Although monsters roar, snarl, grumble, growl and howl, Smith’s playful text asserts that they also know how to behave. The text’s cheeky humor is immediately apparent as the tasks the little monsters carry out involve putting on clean underwear and combing cooties out of their fur. Illustrations extend the text about eating a “well-rounded breakfast” by depicting a box of “Swamp Munch Cereal” with “Free Bugs Inside” alongside a carton of “Mantis Milk.” Such playful intraiconic work affirms the interdependence of art and text, but the occasional indistinctness of the art and the sometimes-cluttered layout of the pages undermine the overall cohesion of the work as a whole. Furthermore, readers familiar with Jane Yolen and Mark Teague’s How Do Dinosaurs… series may find that this title cuts a bit too close to the line between similar and derivative in its execution.

A humorous, somewhat unoriginal offering—for kids who prefer monsters to dinosaurs. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-8652-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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