No need to invest in this “store.” (Picture book. 4-7)

READ REVIEW

THE MONSTORE

If only monsters could be purchased to help out with everyday challenges such as gobbling up icky casseroles, providing the perfect amount of glow when it is dark or “frighten[ing] pesky little sisters.”

This is a story of such a place—a monstore—that is difficult to find and has a very strict refund policy: “No returns. No exchanges.” Zach is fed up with his younger sister Gracie’s intrusions into his bedroom. At the Monstore, he purchases a fearsome, red, three-eyed creature named Manfred to keep Gracie out of his space. Instead, Manfred shows Gracie his hiding place, and then they both scare Zach. Exasperated with Manfred’s performance, he tries to take him back. The Monstore manager holds firm to his policy but suggests he add another. “Monsters make bigger scares in pairs.” And so things go with Mookie and Mojo and more, until the house is full of ineffectual creatures. Zach decides to move to the basement, but soon Gracie comes to him for help with a particularly scary, “glitzy, glittery thing.” The siblings’ relationship mended, Gracie comes up with a plan to deal with the out-of-control monster overflow. Appealing though the premise is, the joke is dragged out a few monsters too many, and though Burks’ illustrations have a pleasant, Pixar-esque feel, the story just isn’t terribly memorable.

No need to invest in this “store.” (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2017-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles.

THE DINKY DONKEY

Even more alliterative hanky-panky from the creators of The Wonky Donkey (2010).

Operating on the principle (valid, here) that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, Smith and Cowley give their wildly popular Wonky Donkey a daughter—who, being “cute and small,” was a “dinky donkey”; having “beautiful long eyelashes” she was in consequence a “blinky dinky donkey”; and so on…and on…and on until the cumulative chorus sails past silly and ludicrous to irresistibly hysterical: “She was a stinky funky plinky-plonky winky-tinky,” etc. The repeating “Hee Haw!” chorus hardly suggests what any audience’s escalating response will be. In the illustrations the daughter sports her parent’s big, shiny eyes and winsome grin while posing in a multicolored mohawk next to a rustic boombox (“She was a punky blinky”), painting her hooves pink, crossing her rear legs to signal a need to pee (“winky-tinky inky-pinky”), demonstrating her smelliness with the help of a histrionic hummingbird, and finally cozying up to her proud, evidently single parent (there’s no sign of another) for a closing cuddle.

Should be packaged with an oxygen supply, as it will incontestably elicit uncontrollable gales of giggles. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-60083-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available.

THE LITTLE GHOST WHO WAS A QUILT

A ghost learns to appreciate his differences.

The little ghost protagonist of this title is unusual. He’s a quilt, not a lightweight sheet like his parents and friends. He dislikes being different despite his mom’s reassurance that his ancestors also had unconventional appearances. Halloween makes the little ghost happy, though. He decides to watch trick-or-treaters by draping over a porch chair—but lands on a porch rail instead. A mom accompanying her daughter picks him up, wraps him around her chilly daughter, and brings him home with them! The family likes his looks and comforting warmth, and the little ghost immediately feels better about himself. As soon as he’s able to, he flies out through the chimney and muses happily that this adventure happened only due to his being a quilt. This odd but gently told story conveys the importance of self-respect and acceptance of one’s uniqueness. The delivery of this positive message has something of a heavy-handed feel and is rushed besides. It also isn’t entirely logical: The protagonist could have been a different type of covering; a blanket, for instance, might have enjoyed an identical experience. The soft, pleasing illustrations’ palette of tans, grays, white, black, some touches of color, and, occasionally, white text against black backgrounds suggest isolation, such as the ghost feels about himself. Most humans, including the trick-or-treating mom and daughter, have beige skin. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-16.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 66.2% of actual size.)

Halloween is used merely as a backdrop; better holiday titles for young readers are available. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7352-6447-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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