Two proven masters combine talents to produce a deliciously creepy mock-horror picture book.
Stine, of Goosebumps fame, and Brown, of the popular Arthur series, challenge readers before the title page. “Pssssst…HEY, YOU! Are you afraid of MONSTERS? Do they make you SHIVER and SHAKE and shut your eyes really tight at night? / If you think you’re brave enough, then come with me.” A boy and a girl look in the window of the Little Shop of Monsters. The merchandise looks like an innocuous, ragtag bunch of rather friendly creatures, but the intrusive narrator delivers ominous warnings: “I hope they don’t break the glass, jump out, and EAT you.” Within the store, the girl looks to be the brave one, while the boy seems alarmed or at least wary. Caged monsters with arms outstretched and mouths in smiles (or perhaps evil grins) greet them. Their tour through the shop finds them face to face with a series of goofy monsters with silly, unthreatening names like Tina-Not-Ticklish. Brown uses colored pencils, watercolor, spray paint, and gouache in double-page spreads to show hulking, sometimes wild, but never terrifying monsters, while the text tries to convince readers that these are a fierce and threatening group. After all, “when you come to the Little Shop of Monsters, you don’t CHOOSE a monster… / A MONSTER CHOOSES YOU!”
Readers are sure to visit this shop again and again for its fantastical creatures and its slightly sinister tone. (Picture book. 4-8)