A calmly surreal invitation to explore.

READ REVIEW

HELLO WORLD!

Mrs. Mo’s Monster (2014), he of the snaggly teeth, spiky blue fur, and lolling pink tongue, is still in the attic.

As the book begins, Mr. and Mrs. Mo are painting the outside of their house from white to red and so cannot amuse the monster, who announces that he’s “off to see the world.” He sets out carrying a good deal of the stuff from the attic, refusing Mrs. Mo’s offer to make him a sandwich. As he goes along, however, he gets lost in a sea of obstacles to navigate and begins to have a meltdown—but Mrs. Mo turns up, with the sandwich and a few more things from home. It all resolves in a satisfying way: the monster gets to see a view of his whole world (and so does the intrepid Mrs. Mo), and Mr. Mo, painting complete, just sort of scratches his bald head in bemusement. The monster definitely has the toddler ethos down pat, and the white-haired Mo couple is quite good at responding to it. The art is done in clear blocks of color and shape, and children of all ages will be amused by what the monster chooses to take along and leave behind of the cozy detritus (tea kettle, golf clubs, globe, etc.) in the attic.

A calmly surreal invitation to explore. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-9272-7198-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available.

THE LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT

A ghost learns to appreciate his differences.

The little ghost protagonist of this title is unusual. He’s a quilt, not a lightweight sheet like his parents and friends. He dislikes being different despite his mom’s reassurance that his ancestors also had unconventional appearances. Halloween makes the little ghost happy, though. He decides to watch trick-or-treaters by draping over a porch chair—but lands on a porch rail instead. A mom accompanying her daughter picks him up, wraps him around her chilly daughter, and brings him home with them! The family likes his looks and comforting warmth, and the little ghost immediately feels better about himself. As soon as he’s able to, he flies out through the chimney and muses happily that this adventure happened only due to his being a quilt. This odd but gently told story conveys the importance of self-respect and acceptance of one’s uniqueness. The delivery of this positive message has something of a heavy-handed feel and is rushed besides. It also isn’t entirely logical: The protagonist could have been a different type of covering; a blanket, for instance, might have enjoyed an identical experience. The soft, pleasing illustrations’ palette of tans, grays, white, black, some touches of color, and, occasionally, white text against black backgrounds suggest isolation, such as the ghost feels about himself. Most humans, including the trick-or-treating mom and daughter, have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 66.2% of actual size.)

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6447-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time.

SHE WANTED TO BE HAUNTED

Which cottage would stand out more in a real estate ad: cute or…haunted?

Clarissa the sentient cottage dislikes cuteness; as a pink, adorable haven for flowers and squirrels, she’s bored. She yearns to be scary and haunted like her father, a gloomy castle, and her mother, a smelly, vermin-infested witch’s hut. Dad gladly donates clouds but tells Clarissa it’s OK to be herself. The clouds are a bust because they bring rain, which brings forth…a rainbow, plants, and birds. Mom supplies a reeking bottle whose contents allegedly repel living things. Clarissa opens it but…attracts playful dogs. Finally abandoning her desire for a ghostly boarder, Clarissa invites her animals to remain. At the end, a particular creature’s unexpected arrival—and its most uncharacteristic behavior—reveal Clarissa’s true nature: horrible and cute. And she’s just fine with that. This rhyming story is certainly an unusual take on the finding-oneself trope. The bouncy verses mostly read and scan well, include sophisticated vocabulary, and provide Clarissa with a spunky, appealing personality. Different typefaces represent the voices of Clarissa, each parent, and the narrator. The cheerful, lively illustrations are very colorful but a trifle twee; Clarissa and her parents are differentiated through vivid pinks, dreary shades, and anthropomorphic faces. Nature blossoms via bright depictions of flowers, trees, animals, and birds.

Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-791-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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