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by Susan Hood & illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0601-8
Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

While Spike, a tiny axolatl salamander, practices being the monster he believes he is, the other animals call him cute and funny because he is small. Will Spike show his true nature? 

Fully adorned with a slithery tail, a spiky crown and stumpy teeth, Spike displays all his scary moves for his neighbors el pato (cinnamon teal duck), el armadillo and el campañol (Mexican vole). Instead of being terrified, they are charmed by this cutie. “You’re almost as adorable as I am!” says el campañol. This book introduces simple Spanish words and names by effortlessly embedding them into the storyline. When the truly terrifying Gila monster arrives on the scene, all the animals cry “¡El monstruo!” and scatter. Spike alone stays to scare the creature off in his own unique way. Vibrant colors and creatures fill the double-spread swamp scenes, which strongly complement the text. Touches of whimsy in the landscape, both unusual and cheery, mimic Spike’s personality. Readers of the endnotes might be surprised to see a photo of a real axolatl, smiling very much like the tiny hero.

Hood and Sweet succeed admirably in creating a new twist on an identity story while cleverly introducing Spanish words and exotic creatures. (endnote, glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)