The Scariest Monster might be right; this might incite too many giggles for a bedtime story.


No one wants to be scared just before bed; better avoid this one. (Not!)

“Bedtime stories / make you sleepy. / This book won’t. / It’s much too CREEPY.” The horned, red-furred narrator, aka the World’s Scariest Monster, says they’ve got umpteen scary faces and their middle name is “Terror” (but their Scary Monster Society license reads: “Fluffy Terry McFluff”). The woodland animals the monster is trying to scare are a bit skeptical. The monster’s roars are loud but sound a bit like sneezes. No matter: “My monster gang / are a horrible bunch. / They’ll spread you on toast / and have you for lunch,” the monster goes on. The wide-eyed and extremely cuddly gang will indeed be happy to have the animals for lunch (as guests). The monster keeps trying, taking the gang to a haunted house (where they can’t even scare a mouse), a ghost pirate ship (where the scariest thing is a seal’s shadow), and a cave (where the gang are terrified). How about if they hide under your bed? But when the moon points out that the little monster looks sleepy, the tale does end in snores. McLaughlin’s boastful monster narrates the primary text in rhyme, with speech bubbles conveying both the forest creatures’ doubts and the monster gang members’ dialogue, which comically undermines the narrator at just about every turn. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

The Scariest Monster might be right; this might incite too many giggles for a bedtime story. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-84365-506-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pavilion Children's

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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A metafictive treat.


Never mind a monster at the end, there’s a monster all the way through this book!

Starting on Page 1, the protagonist monster uses direct address to warn readers not to turn any pages. The book’s very title reveals the threat behind this warning, and Shea’s toothy monster—all mouth and head and bluster—seems ready to follow through with it. Disobeying the command provokes metafictive peril as warnings to readers persist, and various small creatures depicted on the page (a bird, a frog, and a wee bunny) flee its chomping jaws. The monster misses both them and disobedient readers, growing increasingly angry. Clever illustration choices make it seem as though the monster has chomped through the pages of the book, and soon its commands devolve into pleading. Why? “It’s because I have all my cakes back here, at the end of the book,” the greedy monster explains. In a fiendish ploy to trick readers, the monster offers to share, saying, “just come a little closer…” and a page turn reveals (yet another) “CHOMP!” Defeated, the monster resigns itself to readers’ progress toward the end of the book, and it chomps up all the cakes, leaving it with the just deserts of a bellyache. Throughout, Shea’s vibrant, silly pictures diminish the scariness of the story’s premise and deliver humorous characterization.

A metafictive treat. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38986-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Sweet and effective.


It’s tough having a little brother, even if you’re a monster.

“Once there was Natalie,” a little red monster with big bulging eyes. “And then, there was Alphonse too,” bright blue and about half her size. Natalie doesn’t mind Alphonse, “mostly.” They sit companionably in Mom’s lap to listen to a story. They like to name the pigeons together and love making things. But sometimes Alphonse gets carried away, drawing on things that Natalie has made—even eating them. Natalie hates that. One day she finds him under the bunk beds eating her favorite book. “ALPHONSE, THAT IS NOT OK TO DO!” she shouts. When Alphonse timidly suggests that maybe they could fix the book (“with jam”), Natalie puts her fingers in her ears so that she can’t hear him, then goes for her bath. While she’s in the tub, she hears a series of strange noises: “a roaring tornado, / screeching beasts, and a thousand glass peas raining from the sky.” Natalie finds Alphonse in his room, sad and exhausted. All the noises that she heard were his outlandish attempts to fix the book. Her only question: “Are you hurt?” Hirst’s screen-printed illustrations, bright primary palette, simple text, and even her bespoke, faux hand-printed typeface (WB Natalie Alphonse) suggest the work of a young child, giving her simple tale an authentic charm.

Sweet and effective. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8103-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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