A terrific Halloween title to share with those readers who prefer giggles to shivers.


Monster Melly is invited to her cousin Malberta’s house “on the scariest night of all.” On her way, she notices she is being followed. Why? More importantly: by what?

Melly looks pleasant enough for a young monster, with her striped horns and fanged smile. What surprise could her cousin have in store for her? She has no time to think about that, as one “coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail” seems to be stalking her. Melly tells herself bravely it is “Not the least bit scary.” The following spreads reveal an increasing number of spooky characters following her. “[T]wo skittish skeletons” and “three wheezy witches” join the procession in turn, until “ten vexing vultures” round out the silly and not-so-scary group of creepy characters. But by the time Melly rings Malberta’s doorbell, her teeth are chattering with fear. Her three-eyed cousin opens the door to welcome her to a surprise party. But the true surprise is that all the other guests are right behind her! Brendler’s cumulative tale uses silly rhymes and humorous descriptions to make this counting adventure one that invites participation. Geisel winner Pizzoli (The Watermelon Seed, 2013) chooses a muted palette of oranges, browns, greens and purples to allow the whites—on Melly’s horns, cheerful ghosts and friendly skeletons—to glow.

A terrific Halloween title to share with those readers who prefer giggles to shivers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-35547-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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From the Elephant & Piggie series

Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking—Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues—which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book . The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3308-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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