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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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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