Every monster, imaginary or not, will enjoy this and hopefully also find something to enjoy about school.

EVEN MONSTERS GO TO SCHOOL

A grown-up monster describes in rhyming verse how monsters of all types go to school, and so must this child monster, no matter how glum about the prospect.

The copyright page and first spread show a very reluctant monster coming down the stairs, dragging a bouncing backpack, to a breakfast of mush. No text sets up this situation. Instead, the text reads “When Bigfoot wakes, he combs his hair…,” which is confusing since none of that is shown. The page turn then syncs text with image, showing Bigfoot jumping out of a tree to catch the bus: “and steps out in the morning air. / Yellow bus is waiting there. // Even Bigfoot goes to school.” The rhyming, smartly scanning stanzas continue, showing that Frankenstein (the monster, wearing Converse-like shoes), dragons, Yeti, bridge trolls, the Loch Ness Monster, Jack’s giant, and aliens all go to school. The last few spreads return to the titular monster, blue-furred with yellow horns and purple stripe and sporting a pink dress and purple backpack, getting ready and then happily waving goodbye while headed to the bus. Van Dusen’s gouache illustrations are spring-bright and cheerful, every (nonscary) imaginary beast delighting in some aspect of school. Once past the opening narrative hiccup, young readers will delight in the premise and in the myriad visual details, which do include gender-binary restrooms in one scene.

Every monster, imaginary or not, will enjoy this and hopefully also find something to enjoy about school. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-236642-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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This magical wisp of a story has an imaginative message for both planners and improvisers.

JULIA'S HOUSE MOVES ON

From the Julia's House series

Julia decides to pack up and move her House for Lost Creatures, creating a host of problems with unexpected results.

Julia has taken in a cacophony of lost creatures: dwarves, trolls, and goblins, a singular rarity of a mermaid, and a patchwork cat, among others. But now, the house feels ready for a move. As the ghost starts to fade and the mermaid languishes, Julia puts her plan into action—packing books and stacking boxes. The move quickly turns into a series of catastrophes. Trying to retain the facade of control, Julia is dismayed to see her plans making things worse. Knowledge of the previous title, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures (2014), is a helpful introduction, as Hatke turns the solution of the first book into the problem for this one. With skillful pacing, the story has messages for both planners and creatives. The problems seem beyond resolution, keeping readers in gleeful suspended tension. While the first book introduced readers to the gnomish folletti, a hedgehoglike ghillie comes to a dramatic rescue here. There are two disparate messages in one story: Kindness will be returned, and it is OK to not have a plan. Connecting them together are lush illustrations that stretch the mind and add details to mythic beasts. Julia presents white. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 25% of actual size.)

This magical wisp of a story has an imaginative message for both planners and improvisers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-19137-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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