Easy to read but definitely not easy to forget.

SHADOW IN THE WOODS AND OTHER SCARY STORIES

From the Mister Shivers series , Vol. 2

Five more spooky shorts from the haunting Mr. Shivers.

Yet another box is found at the pseudo-author’s doorstep along with a note that promises “strange and scary stories.” This time, the box contains a rusty padlock, an owl’s feather, a flashlight battery, fingernail clippings, and a tuft of red hair. Each item correlates to one of the ensuing tales, all told in the third person. Hugh walks home late from school one night and encounters an owl—or is it a monster? Ruby drops her flashlight while looking for a creature under her bed. Tommy, a habitual fingernail chewer, starts using his teeth on other people. Sophie writes a message on the wall of her new room and gets an odd reply. Finally, there’s something—“SCRATCH-SCRATCH”—behind Emma’s locker. Brallier effectively repeats the screamworthy formula established in Beneath the Bed and Other Scary Stories (2019) to add a sense of familiarity to the foreboding. Rubegni’s full-color cartoon illustrations depict racially diverse schoolchildren. A combination of spot, panel, and full-page illustrations helps add drama to the pacing. The abrupt, disquieting endings mix the creepy and weird with the genuinely terrifying, creating a nice balance as readers jump bravely between stories. Each page has around 50 words or less, with longer paragraphs broken up with ample leading and spacing. The final page includes drawing instructions and a short creative writing prompt.

Easy to read but definitely not easy to forget. (Early reader/horror. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-61541-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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This title could be a fit for those kids whose imaginations occasionally run amok or those whose memories of actual events...

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, MY BROTHER HAS A MONSTER!

A boy is horrified as his older brother collects increasing numbers of scary and creepy creatures—and brings them all in the house!

Nesbitt delivers this overlong cumulative tale in a series of rhyming couplets. The awestruck younger brother narrates. “It happened just last Halloween, / the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen: / My brother went out after dark / and found a monster in the park.” Soon two hairy spiders, three rats, four toads, five black cats, and so on have invaded their house. The younger brother repeats, “I hope our parents don’t find out,” at the end of each new iteration. The text describes the mayhem that ensues while Slonim has fun giving the various animals hilarious expressions with his cartoon illustrations. Finally the dreaded moment comes when the parents arrive. But instead of gruesome unwanted visitors, there is a menagerie of more welcome inhabitants, including caterpillars, butterflies, geckos, kittens, and gerbils. The original monster that started the story is “a shaggy dog, just big and hairy.” The story takes yet another surprise twist after this one, and with few clues as to its internal logic, readers may find themselves scratching their heads.

This title could be a fit for those kids whose imaginations occasionally run amok or those whose memories of actual events get wildly embellished. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-65059-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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Amusing, colorful illustrations, interesting information, and a high-interest theme enliven a pedestrian text.

FIVE LITTLE MERMAIDS

Repetitive verses count down from five to none as playful mermaids each chase after a different sea creature in the five named bodies that make up the global ocean.

The book starts: “Five little mermaids / Went swimming in the sea / to the Atlantic Ocean / To see what they could see. / Maria joined a school of fish / And swam away carefree. Whoosh! / Now there were….” Maria has curly brown hair and freckles and light skin. Makaiya has long brown hair and light brown skin and meets a turtle in the Indian Ocean. Ming, with straight black hair and what are meant to be Asian features, “high-fived a penguin” in the Southern Ocean. Marley, with bright curly red hair, a ruddy complexion, and big red glasses, follows a giant squid in the Pacific Ocean. Finally, Maya, with dark brown skin and dark hair in Afro puffs, swims after an orange lion’s mane jellyfish, a showy species surprisingly found in the Arctic Ocean. After a double-page spread that depicts an underwater castle, coral, sea anemones, fish, and other sea creatures, a page turn reveals all kinds of merfolk having a party to welcome the five after their travels. Coral-reef–bright illustrations are vivid and fanciful, with comical mermaids cavorting in the sea, and varied compositions help sustain interest, with the giant squid starring in one of the most dramatic spreads. Following the story, three spreads detail information about the folklore of merpeople, the oceans (with generalized location maps), and the five creatures highlighted and the depths to which they can swim. The music for the undistinguished verses is included, as is a CD with audio and video (not seen).

Amusing, colorful illustrations, interesting information, and a high-interest theme enliven a pedestrian text. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-78285-831-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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