Here’s one to have fun with as we cheer for essential medical personnel.

EMERGENCY MONSTER SQUAD

Even monsters have their off days sometimes and need expert help.

In this humorous rhyming book that acts as a simple explanation of EMTs’ important work and their equipment, Gus, an EMT and “amboolance” driver, is blue and has three eyes, two yellow horns, and fangs—a monster, in other words. Sally, Gus’ paramedic partner, is a White-presenting human. This duo caters to monsters, whom they ferry on their “Monster Squad bus.” Readers are cautioned never to say “quiet” around them. That’s because an ambulance has urgent work to do and needs to sound its siren—LOUDLY—as it hurries patients to the hospital. Afterward, the otherworldly creatures acknowledge the EMTs as heroes. The book does double duty. While it aims to be somewhat straightforward about EMTs’ duties, it’s packaged as a light monster story—appealing to child audiences, especially around Halloween. It provides some useful information; numerous items (some tongue-in-cheek) are labeled throughout (the lack of a pronunciation guide for such terms as defibrillator and kraken may prove challenging); and there’s even a glossary, though some terms are included for comic effect. The rhymes are bouncy and witty, and onomatopoeic sound effects are included in large capitals where needed to add drama. The comical, energetic illustrations are attention grabbers; the monsters are laughably weird and nonfrightening. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.875-by-14.375-inch double-page spreads viewed at 83% of actual size.)

Here’s one to have fun with as we cheer for essential medical personnel. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-399-54850-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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This entertaining tale about making new friends may also help readers conquer their fear of clowns.

THAT MONSTER ON THE BLOCK

You never know about neighbors.

Monster wonders who’s moving in next door. The new neighbor might be an ogre, goblin, or dragon, so he practices his best welcoming growl. Then, the new owner turns out to be…a clown. Monster calls pals Zombie, Mummy, and Yeti with the news. All steadfastly ignore Clown—because he’s not a monster. Undeterred, Clown introduces himself around to no avail. Clown leaves notes and gifts; still, no one responds. Monster determines to scare him away. Unwittingly, Clown endears himself to the neighbors in the meantime. When Monster confronts his nemesis, he discovers his friends cavorting at Clown’s impromptu circus—and decides to cultivate an open mind. In an unsurprising ending that feels rushed and tacked on, Monster has fun at the circus and invites Clown to a party. During the festivities, a new nonmonster moves into the neighborhood. This time, the newcomer is heartily welcomed, its obvious differences now accepted by everyone. This humorous, fast-paced story, narrated with clipped sentences, conveys an important, unsubtle message about the importance of accepting diversity: The “monster” is one who thinks friends must be similar to them. Type is set in various fonts and colors, heightening visual appeal; lots of onomatopoeic sound effects are incorporated into the text. Highly expressive characters feature in the colorful, comically silly, frenetic illustrations.

This entertaining tale about making new friends may also help readers conquer their fear of clowns. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0533-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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