Imaginative readers will pore over the illustrations for much longer than one reading.

JULIA'S HOUSE GOES HOME

The trilogy of picture books about Julia’s peripatetic House for Lost Creatures ends with this title, in which kindness begets kindness.

In trilogy opener Julia’s House for Lost Creatures (2014), Julia, who presents White, opens her home to a world of phantasmagorical creatures. In sequel Julia’s House Moves On (2020), the house literally goes on a journey, taking the home and all its inhabitants with it. And now at last, the house has found the Perfect Spot to settle down. With the first two books, Julia’s openness and kindness lead to kerfuffles and conundrums. In this final title, the house plunges down a craggy mountain and is left in total ruins, with only the sign, a doorknob, and the front door remaining. Hatke’s lavish watercolor illustrations are magnetic and spirited, as the menagerie of curious and strange creatures are strewn all over the land. What to do? The answer lies in Julia’s open and unquestioning acceptance of every creature found on the pages. A unicorn? “We’ll make room.” A cemetery full of ghosts? “Just follow me.” Even Julia’s optimism crumbles when she finds she’s led creature friends both old and new to a junkyard instead of a home. But her unfailing welcome to all, even when it leads to quandaries, is a rare treasure, bringing friendship and support back to her in spades. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Imaginative readers will pore over the illustrations for much longer than one reading. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76932-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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