Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014).

THE PRINCESS IN BLACK AND THE PERFECT PRINCESS PARTY

From the Princess in Black series , Vol. 2

Princess Magnolia’s perfect birthday party’s threatened by constant monster alarms, summoning her secret identity again and again.

Prim, proper Princess Magnolia is all decked out in her pink finery, awaiting the arrival of a dozen ethnically diverse fellow-princess party guests for her birthday when her monster-alarm ring goes off. She changes attire and personas, becoming the heroic Princess in Black. Working swiftly, she saves a goat from a hungry monster and gets back to her palace in time to welcome her guests. But just when she thinks she’s in the clear and ready to open her presents, off goes her monster-alarm ring again! This pattern—Magnolia is just about to open presents when her alarm goes off, she comes up with a distraction for the princesses, defeats a monster, and returns just in time—continues through the book. It’s enhanced by visual gags, such as Magnolia’s increasingly flustered appearance, and hilarious depictions of the various ways monsters try to eat goats, from between giant pieces of bread to in a giant ice cream cone. A side character, the fittingly named Princess Sneezewort, frequently comes close to discovering Magnolia’s secret. In the end, Magnolia can’t take the constant interruptions anymore, yelling at a monster that it’s her birthday—the monster, abashed, ends up helping her in one last distraction for the other princesses.

A chuckle-inducing, entirely worthy stand-alone follow-up to the terrific The Princess in Black (2014). (Fantasy. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6511-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Transitioning readers will feel accomplished and will surely look for future volumes to see what happens in Mia’s new life.

MIA MAYHEM IS A SUPERHERO!

From the Mia Mayhem series , Vol. 1

In this first volume of a new chapter-book series, a little girl named Mia discovers she’s a superhero.

Mia Macarooney is “a total disaster machine.” Everywhere she goes, chaos and mayhem follow (literally, in the case of Chaos—that’s the name of her cat). Except now she’s received an unusual letter, inviting her to the Program for In Training Superheroes, and she is totally bowled over. It turns out her accidents are often results of her superpowers, which she will learn to hone in her after-school hours at the PITS. As if that weren’t enough of a shock, Mia’s parents deliver the thrilling news that they are superheroes too! Her father is fluent in animal speech, and her mother can fly. Everything moves quickly at the PITS. Mia embarrasses herself in front of everyone during the entrance exam but ends up feeling supported and ready to learn…in the next volume. Freckled, brown-skinned, curly-fro–sporting Mia is an adorable protagonist. An overuse of exclamation points keeps the adrenaline running without a steady stream of exciting events—or even a climax and resolution—but with the large, bold type and the cute illustrations full of personality, emerging readers will be happy to read this book independently. What’s more exciting than that?

Transitioning readers will feel accomplished and will surely look for future volumes to see what happens in Mia’s new life. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3270-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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