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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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 Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral.

HARDLY HAUNTED

What could be worse for a house than to be haunted? Unless….

“There was a house on a hill, and that house was worried.” Overgrown with vines and frequented by a curious black cat, the abandoned abode fears that she will remain unoccupied because of her eerie countenance. Supplying the house with rounded, third-story windows and exterior molding that shift to express emotions, Sima takes readers through a tour of the house’s ominous interior. At first, the enchanted homestead tries to suppress her creaky walls, squeaky stairs, and rattling pipes. Despite all efforts to keep “VERY still. And VERY quiet. And VERY calm,” the house comes to find that being a rather creepy residence might actually be fun. The realization dawns on the decrepit dwelling with both relief and joy: “She liked being noisy. Maybe she liked being haunted.” Once the house embraces herself for who she is, the plot moves in a pleasant yet predictable direction: A cheerful family of ghosts loves the house in all her noisy glory and decides to move in. Sima’s lighthearted, cartoony style and cozy palette disarm the book of any frightening elements. The gentle, upbeat vibe makes it a fair choice to remind kids that their differences from others are the key to their belonging. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A cute, Halloween-y take on the old dare-to-be-you moral. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4170-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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