Little Monster takes the idea of a story from something on a page to something to be lived.

I WANT TO BE IN A SCARY STORY

Little Monster wants to be in a scary story…or maybe not.

In a tale told entirely in dialogue, an unseen narrator, whose text is set in black type, interacts with purple Little Monster, who, following suit, speaks in purple. The enthusiastic (and adorable, with two little white horn nubbins on its oversize head, big yellow eyes, and three teeth that sometimes change position) Little Monster eschews the narrator’s idea that it star in a funny story—it wants a scary story. But when the narrator plops it down in a dark and scary wood outside a haunted house, Little Monster’s dialogue bubble says “Oh my golly gosh!” Its body language and wide-eyed fright fill in the gaps. The narrator dials back the scary in stages, Little Monster’s quaint expressions continuing as everything is still too frightening for it—though it does lose some of its naiveté along the way, learning to ask specific questions of the narrator. Jullien’s illustrations are suitably creepy, but because the narrator tells Little Monster in advance what will happen with each turn of the page, they shouldn’t be anything readers can’t handle, and the jump at the end is a satisfying one. And after the final page, readers may just be asking along with Little Monster, “So, can I be in a story again tomorrow?”

Little Monster takes the idea of a story from something on a page to something to be lived. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8953-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.

HARDLY HAUNTED

What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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