Silly scares and gruesome, good-natured fun for kids so inclined.

THE SCARY BOOK

Big fangs come in small packages in this inventively creepy opus from France.

Bright colors and ghoulishly garish surprises await young readers brave enough to unfold the flaps in these amusingly over-the-top portraits of scary creatures. “Little fish / become big fish. / Beware of the piranha. / OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! / LET’S FIND A SAFE PLACE!” exhorts the text in larger and larger type. On recto, a tiny, wide-eyed green fish becomes a fearsome eating machine when the flap is folded down, revealing sharp teeth and a bite so wide the fish trebles in size. “A bat eats insects. / DO YOU WANT TO FIND OUT / WHAT THIS BAT EATS?” Unfolding the flap reveals a gaping maw of pink gums and razor-sharp fangs, suggesting a diet of anything it wants. A ghost, a toad, a crab, an octopus, a snake, a spider, a wolf, and, finally, a Halloween pumpkin full of bats and bugs round out the anatomically alarming cast. Interactivity and the element of surprise make this an amusing read for kids with strong stomachs and a sense of humor. Fair warning: Some of the drawings are pretty gross. The ghost, when extended, sports a rib cage and a stray trachea and esophagus, for example. Know your kid; this may not be suitable for those prone to nightmares. Though fairly stiff and secure, the fold-out flaps could tear in rough or excited hands.

Silly scares and gruesome, good-natured fun for kids so inclined. (Board book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-3-7913-7464-2

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Prestel

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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The lack of adventure and the pat, pedestrian resolution makes this an ineffective if well-intentioned appeal to get past...

SNOW BEAST COMES TO PLAY

Unfortunately for one disgruntled snow beast, there isn’t a whole lot to do on the mountain aside from snoring or comparing relative foot size (big, bigger, biggest).

Tobogganing all the way down on his prodigious rump, Snow Beast lands in town to start his search for a friend. Snow Beast is as large as a three-story building, and his voice is just as huge. Despite having the conversational skills of a caveman—“SNOW BEAST WANT PLAY!”—Snow Beast appears to know a lot about the rules of friendship, such as always starting with “Hello,” and “to try to join in.” Nevertheless, Snow Beast’s overtures of friendship are rejected by everyone—from the five o’clock shadowed snow-shoveler to the shrieking Christmas-light committee. Penny, a little white girl who loves snow but knows enough to be wary of snow beasts, screeches and runs after his bellowed, “HELLO!!” But when Snow Beast starts crying, Penny, despite her dog’s advice to the contrary, invites the beast to play. And that’s about it, as far as plot is concerned. Gosier’s spare illustrations evoke the animation style of the 1950s. Speech bubbles capture the scant lines of dialogue as well as every screech, shriek, and howl of the terrified townsfolk.

The lack of adventure and the pat, pedestrian resolution makes this an ineffective if well-intentioned appeal to get past the unreliability of first impressions. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-519-5

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A ferociously entertaining blend of wonder, thrills, and science.

DINOSAUR ADVENTURE

From the Zoom series

Young explorers risk prehistoric perils and cataclysmic destruction to learn about the dinosaurs of the late Cretaceous.

Best friends Jasmine (who has brown skin and wears dark hair in a braid) and Jamie (who presents White and has a thatch of brown hair) set their time machine for the days of the dinosaurs, go exploring, and make it home in time for dinner. This well-constructed board book is both visually engaging and as rich in information as it is in adventure. It features 17 different two-page set pieces, 24 distinctly labeled prehistoric creatures, creative die cuts offering tantalizing peeks at what lies beyond each turn of the page, and a spectacular pop-up of the asteroid that caused the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event. The adventurers journey through or over habitats ranging from jungles, swamps, deserts, plains, and oceans and fly through the air and dive in the sea with the help of a friendly pterosaur and elasmosaurus, respectively. The featured creatures are all Age-appropriate, as is the asteroid. The two friends are cool and cavalier about tracking T. rex and chasing Velociraptor. Caregivers might want to caution their charges that, if or when they get their time machines working, they should exercise appropriate caution when approaching powerful, carnivorous eating machines. Companion volume Rainforest Adventure stars a light-brown–skinned girl named Lin and is a similarly engaging and informative trek down the Amazon and, once again, home by dinner. Both offer inspiration for inquisitive young adventurers everywhere.

A ferociously entertaining blend of wonder, thrills, and science. (Board book. 1-5)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-912920-46-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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A funny read-aloud with (mostly) chuckle-inducing illustrations.

GINNY GOBLIN IS NOT ALLOWED TO OPEN THIS BOX

She may not be allowed to, but the eponymous green-skinned, overalls-clad monster thinks of many magnificent, creative ways to open that box before dinnertime.

Ginny’s large head sports huge, white eyes with long, dark lashes, a cheerful, two-fanged grin, and two pointy ears—one of which is torn. In other words, she is undoubtedly a nonharmful sort of goblin. After the text makes it clear that Ginny is not allowed to open the box until dinnertime—but “she really wants to know what’s inside”—it asks, “What if we put the box way up on a shelf?” Next, readers learn the many (often absurdly hypothetical) things that Ginny Goblin is not allowed to do in order to reach the box, including using a rope and a grappling hook or building a catapult or poking at “scaly, scary serpents” in a “murky moat.” Needing to wait until dinnertime strikes a familiar chord with this age group and becomes an appropriate refrain. Lighthearted, cartoony artwork mostly supports the text’s tongue-in-cheek tone, leading to laughs about the outlandish suggestions. However, slapstick images of Ginny’s body slamming against a stone tower and, later, Ginny clobbering serpents may strike many as unnecessarily violent. Suspense builds when Ginny temporarily turns her attention away from opening the box. The closure of knowing what’s inside is supplemented by a punchline well understood by children who have been given boundaries by adults.

A funny read-aloud with (mostly) chuckle-inducing illustrations. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-76415-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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