An odd but successful story with a sly sense of humor.

WONDER MOLE'S SCENT COSTUME PARTY

From the Somos Ocho series

An unusual, enigmatic story about a group of moles who wear the scents of different animals to disguise themselves at a costume party.

The story begins with an explanatory note stating that moles have poor vision but an excellent sense of smell. So when a mole goes to a costume party, it wears the scent of another animal (sprayed on like perfume) as a disguise. Wonder Mole, famous for his scent costume parties, is a dapper fellow with a top hat, pinstripe fur, and glasses. The genial host affably welcomes his guests, who each wear different scents and a few items of clothing related to their chosen animal smell. A tall, bug-eyed weasel sneaks into the party as a mole with weasel scent and costume, but the critter is really hoping to eat a few moles for dinner. The weasel is recognized later by a friendly hedgehog who stops by to ask that the party noise be toned down. In an amusing, open-ended conclusion the moles all glare at the weasel, who is caught with a funny, horrified expression. This unlikely premise somehow works well, with a few hilarious plot twists and an overall droll sense of understated humor. Stylized illustrations in citrus and teal shades and an oversized format bring the mole party to life.

An odd but successful story with a sly sense of humor. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-84-17123-98-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: nubeOCHO

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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Kid-friendly dark humor.

POULTRYGEIST

The chicken crosses the road…and arrives on the other side as a ghost.

The action kicks off before the title page when the chicken crossing the road winds up a splatter of feathers against the grille of a tractor trailer. When its ghost rises from the squished remains, it meets a host of other animal ghosts that encourage the new poultrygeist to start getting scary. They probably didn’t realize, however, that they’d be the ones to be frightened. Geron’s text is full of punny lines like “It’s time to get foul, fowl!” and “Ghosts of a feather haunt together!” Midway through, the poultrygeist turns to readers to make sure they’re not too scared. This is a nice touch, maintaining engagement while also giving more timid readers time to take a beat. Oswald’s illustrations display masterful use of color, with bright, ghostly animals against a dark, often all-black background, the dialogue shown in colors that correspond to the speakers. These ghosts do become scary but not enough to completely terrorize readers. Oswald’s skill is seen in full effect, as readers witness only the animal ghosts’ reactions to the poultrygeist’s scariest face, building suspense for the full reveal. This book is just right for kids easing into the slightly scary and macabre but who still want a safe and fun read.

Kid-friendly dark humor. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1050-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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