Have the art table and smocks ready.

MY MONSTERPIECE

An unseen first-person narrator tries to draw scary beasts.

“I want to make the scariest monster ever!” opens the protagonist, planning to give the creature “a long, green tongue” so it will be “a monster masterpiece—MY MONSTERPIECE!” The first spread shows paints, brushes, and the abstract beginnings of the monster. The second spread shows the finished piece of art. What go unseen, though the text mentions them, are the human characters. The protagonist tries to spook Mom with the picture, but instead she’s enchanted: “I love this chubby kitty,” she says. Three more iterations use the same structure: Protagonist draws a monster with a seemingly scary feature (pointy horns, sharp teeth, claws) and fails to frighten loved ones, who all cheerfully misidentify and mischaracterize the images (“Great job painting an owl!” says Dad; “It’s so cute!” says sister). No humans appear visually until the end, and even then they are child-style stick figures, and a concluding twist in which monsters draw scary kids is more confusing than compelling. Due to these factors, the appeal of this book lies in Hoffman’s portrayal of artistic media. Backgrounds are graph paper, patterned papers, and (perhaps) a lilac-painted board; crayons, paints, pencils, and collages are shown lushly mid-use; scissors, fabrics, and pompoms make vivid cameos. The monster-creation plot is fun, but this is more an invitation to make art.

Have the art table and smocks ready. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-953458-01-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Yeehoo Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.

HOW I MET MY MONSTER

From the I Need My Monster series

In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.

As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.

Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947277-09-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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