Waga is a monster that is mean, tricky and possesses the “biggest scare.” But when Waga loses that scare, the monster’s very existence is in jeopardy.
It is evident Hiti comes from the comic-book world. The text is pared down to essential declarations, exclamations and gleeful sound effects in this rapidly paced title. In settings of mostly teal, deep red, white, black and gray, Waga stands out as a brilliantly orange phenom outlined in black that appears to be a combination of a golem, troll and mischievous elf. The first few pages boast of Waga’s terrifying reputation in the monster world, but a page turn early on abruptly reveals an instantly saddened creature. The scare is gone, and if Waga fails to recover it by morning, “Waga will disappear for good.” The remainder of the book follows Waga on a search through the “creepy woods,” “the dark, dank cave” and the graveyard, eventually leading to the sudden, surprising revelation of where the biggest scare is. “Waga had left the scare / …IN YOUR ROOM!!! BOOOO HA-HAH-HA-HA-HAH-HAAA…” Waga has overcome his wildly swinging emotions and is now presented as most threatening and scary on the final page, with his many sharp, pointy teeth bared and hands poised to grab.
The ending may leave younger or more sensitive readers unsettled, so save this slim, adrenaline-fueled tale for those who crave a true, if ephemeral, fright. (Picture book. 5-8)