A lighthearted take on an unlikely friendship.

HOW TO TALK MONSTER

A young boy can’t sleep because there’s a monster outside his bedroom window!

He calls his parents to investigate, but the monster hides. The monster peeks through the boy’s window with an exclamation of “Goop-zee-googy!”…then enters the boy’s room to pinch his nose (“Zork! Zork!”). The boy is scared but musters up the courage to tell the monster to go away. He crawls back into bed triumphantly only to find the monster stealing his bicycle. When the monster crashes the bike, the boy is initially furious about the cycle’s ruined wheel despite the monster’s remorseful “Gibble”—until he notices that the monster is hurt and, just like any kid, needs some comfort and first aid. The boy realizes that the monster isn’t trying to scare him—the monster is trying to play! (Readers will have figured this out long before thanks to its expressive three-eyed face.) Together the two form a friendship that keeps them both up, making mischief despite the language barrier, until dawn. The story is drawn as a comic book, featuring speech bubbles and cartoon human and monster characters. The sparse text is entertaining and efficient, working together with the movement-packed panels to push the story forward. A backmatter Monster-to-English glossary allows readers to go back to earlier panels and translate. The boy and his parents all have pale skin.

A lighthearted take on an unlikely friendship. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-51580-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Treat little ones to this sweet, entertaining holiday story.

IT'S HALLOWEEN, LITTLE MONSTER

From the Little Monsters series

It can be a spooky thrill to go trick-or-treating for the first time.

Little Monster is excited to experience this Halloween rite of passage; the green Martian costume fits perfectly. Yet, as Little Monster and Papa venture out, the young one is leery. Scary things are all around: a pirate, witch, and ghost. On Little Monster’s street, it’s less the costumes than the wearers that look strange, given that residents are monsters themselves, albeit cute, smiling ones with big eyes. As they walk about, Little Monster begins to feel braver with Papa’s help. The pair’s final stop—a scary house with a graveyard for a front lawn—ushers in a surprise ending. This cute addition to the holiday shelf is by the creators of Go to School, Little Monster (2015) and the third in the Little Monster series. Told in rollicking rhymes, the story delivers humorous, not-too-scary chills for the youngest readers. The portrayal of a warm, patient relationship between child and father is welcome, as is the sight of a parent accompanying a child on nighttime trick-or-treating rounds, not universally presented in Halloween books. The delightful, expressive, atmospheric illustrations depict adorable, multicolored monsters—it’s definitely a diverse neighborhood. Winsome, lavender Little Monster, befanged, wide-eyed, noseless, and bearing a spearlike tail, subs for kids who anticipate and feel wary on their own first Halloween forays. Papa is blue and also has large eyes, fangs, a tail, and no nose.

Treat little ones to this sweet, entertaining holiday story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9208-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

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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