This Dylan Thomas–Dr. Seuss–Lewis Carroll love child has the power to enrapture, with lots of practice.


Halloween night brings an epic battle between hordes of “SKUL-A-MUG-MUGS” (skeletons) and the “tyke-tots” (children) who want to go out trick-or-treating.

Heidbreder crafts his tale in rhyming nonsensical text, while Martz illustrates in a cartoon style with a strict palette of black, grays, white, yellow, orange and reds. Set against the dark night, the menacing skeletons boast how they will “brain-frizz tall-bigs. / Halloween they’ll deep nix. / They’ll shup-clup inside / nasty Noras and Nicks!” But the costumed kids rally—they are not “splooked-out” like their parents. On a vibrantly red double-page spread, the two forces splendidly clash on a neighborhood street: “The scare-fest crish-crashed, / up-over-round under… // …but strong-sure tyke-tots / out movvered SKUL thunder.” Soon the skeletons disappear, adults shake off their fears, and the children resume their Halloween quest for candy. All ends well on a high fueled by the exciting victory and the profusion of “sweet-treats.” Some readers will enjoy puzzling out the meanings of the many made-up words or simply relish how the language sounds when read aloud. But others may not be up to the task of so much decoding, even if the impeccably detailed pictures help provide much-needed clues to the action.

This Dylan Thomas–Dr. Seuss–Lewis Carroll love child has the power to enrapture, with lots of practice. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-302-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


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 jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.


From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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