Sure to inspire future slayers to take on the monsters in their closets (thankfully readers’ monsters won’t be real).

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

A PICTURE BOOK

From the Pop Classics series

Even future vampire slayers can be afraid of the dark.

Eight-year-old Buffy is afraid of sounds coming from her closet at night. She invites her friends Willow and Xander to sleep over. They have a great night—but can’t bring themselves to open the door to the noisy closet. They ask school librarian Giles for help, and he tells Buffy that someday she’ll be a great warrior; for now, if she acts bravely, the monsters will be scared. Xander and Willow stay over again, and the trio find a closet full of smiling monsters (that every fan of Buffy’s TV show will recognize, although none of them are likely in this book’s target audience). Buffy attacks, and the monsters are cowed…and join the party—until Mom comes in. Though Buffy couldn’t have been friends with Xander and Willow at 8 according to the extensive mythos of the series/movie/comics (she moved to Sunnydale in high school) and turning some of the horrifically violent monsters into doe-eyed, glorified teddy bears is kinda creepy, Rekulak’s newest nostalgia-inspired picture book has fantastic comic-style, action-filled, colorful art by Smith and a fine (but not preachy) lesson that even rockin’ (female) heroes can be afraid sometimes. Caregiver fans will enjoy sharing their obsession with a new generation, who will enjoy reassurances that the monsters in the closet aren’t a threat. Buffy and Co. all present white, but they have some diverse classmates.

Sure to inspire future slayers to take on the monsters in their closets (thankfully readers’ monsters won’t be real). (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68369-069-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Quirk Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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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Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time.

SHE WANTED TO BE HAUNTED

Which cottage would stand out more in a real estate ad: cute or…haunted?

Clarissa the sentient cottage dislikes cuteness; as a pink, adorable haven for flowers and squirrels, she’s bored. She yearns to be scary and haunted like her father, a gloomy castle, and her mother, a smelly, vermin-infested witch’s hut. Dad gladly donates clouds but tells Clarissa it’s OK to be herself. The clouds are a bust because they bring rain, which brings forth…a rainbow, plants, and birds. Mom supplies a reeking bottle whose contents allegedly repel living things. Clarissa opens it but…attracts playful dogs. Finally abandoning her desire for a ghostly boarder, Clarissa invites her animals to remain. At the end, a particular creature’s unexpected arrival—and its most uncharacteristic behavior—reveal Clarissa’s true nature: horrible and cute. And she’s just fine with that. This rhyming story is certainly an unusual take on the finding-oneself trope. The bouncy verses mostly read and scan well, include sophisticated vocabulary, and provide Clarissa with a spunky, appealing personality. Different typefaces represent the voices of Clarissa, each parent, and the narrator. The cheerful, lively illustrations are very colorful but a trifle twee; Clarissa and her parents are differentiated through vivid pinks, dreary shades, and anthropomorphic faces. Nature blossoms via bright depictions of flowers, trees, animals, and birds.

Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-791-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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