A delicious scare for audiences ready for chills.

READ REVIEW

GHASTLY GHOSTS

When Dave inherits a remote cottage, the house speaks to him. Literally.

The hinges on the door “squeeeeeak,” the bathroom pipes “moooan,” and the cellar “waaillls.” Dave takes it all in stride, but he wishes for a human voice—but that night, he hears, “Ghastly ghosts in the old coal shed!” Dave tries to shake his fear, but the voice repeats the phrase in an ever louder voice as expressive illustrations capture Dave’s increasing alarm. When the fireplace coal burns down, Dave is cold enough to steel himself for a trip to the monstrous coal shed. Braving the “ghastly ghosts,” Dave gains their respect by requesting their help gathering coal and inviting them to share his fire—if they can “find something ELSE to say!” Practiced picture-book readers will appreciate the subtext in the cheery, cartoon illustrations, such as the cat companion that mimics Dave’s actions and reactions and the potential friends hiding in the shadows. This is a great rhyming read-aloud, especially if the reader’s voice embraces the drama. Before the story resolves on a happy note (Dave is playing his fiddle while surrounded by new friends, both spectral and otherwise), the tension escalates until the ghastly ghosts are finally confronted. Dave presents as a spry, gray-bearded white man.

A delicious scare for audiences ready for chills. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2864-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.

HOW I MET MY MONSTER

From the I Need My Monster series

In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.

As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.

Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947277-09-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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What could be more soporific at bedtime than hairy, green-haired slime ogres with nightlight-orange eyes? (Picture book. 5-8)

HEY, THAT'S MY MONSTER!

From the I Need My Monster series

Another round of under-the-bed–boojum auditions from the creators of I Need My Monster (2009).

Outraged that his personal bed monster, Gabe, has decamped to attend to his wakeful little sister, a lad marches across the hall to remonstrate. Given three chances to conjure up a suitable new monster for hyperactive Emma, three drippy, wormy, tentacled horrors are summoned in turn. Unfortunately, Emma turns out to be delighted rather than properly terrified, and none will do. Will the boy be forced to go monsterless? Drawn with big, shiny eyes and oversized heads, the two light-skinned sibs glow with energy—but the garishly hued monsters in McWilliam’s toy-strewn bedroom scenes are show stealers, whether exuding pools of pink slime or rearing up in glowering, warty menace in vain efforts to get Emma into bed. At last, in a satisfying if not particularly logical twist, it turns out that Gabe himself has a little sister, Stella, whose threatened attack on the giggling Emma’s toes results in a quick bonding and, a page turn later, snoozing children on both sides of the hall.

What could be more soporific at bedtime than hairy, green-haired slime ogres with nightlight-orange eyes? (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936261-37-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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