This monster mashup of a new-baby story and a creepy-creature competition doesn’t necessarily break new ground, but it’s...

THE MOST TERRIBLE OF ALL

A monster discovers that another creature’s horribleness just might outshine his.

Smugg, a horned, furry, purple monster, consults his magic mirror each day to confirm that he is the “most terrible one of all.” True to his name, he revels in his status and is troubled when one morning the mirror confides that a new arrival next door is “a million times more terrible.” Charging into the neighbors’ house, he confronts the beasts he finds there, but each denies being the most terrible. Then siblings Jaws and Claws point him in the right direction: upstairs to see their new sister. What follows is a takedown of mammoth proportions as the big-eyed, blue-spotted baby misbehaves mightily. The over-the-top actions pictured are made all the more humorous by the deadpan delivery of the text. Rhyming couplets and internal rhymes are interspersed throughout, and a few nonsense words appear, but much of the narrative unfolds in simple declarative sentences. The illustrations, created in acrylic and oil, emphasize the ooey, gooey textures of slime and drool and the sharp, shiny claws, fangs, and horns, but visual jokes, bright colors, and vaguely retro details keep things more amusing than alarming.

This monster mashup of a new-baby story and a creepy-creature competition doesn’t necessarily break new ground, but it’s likely to scare up a few giggles all the same. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1716-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen.

BEING YOU

Words addressed to children aimed at truth-telling, encouraging, and inspiring are accompanied by pictures of children of color going about their days.

“This story is about you,” the narrator opens, as a black boy looks up toward readers, a listening expression on his face. A multiracial group of children romp in a playground to encouraging words: “you are… / a dancer / a singer / in charge of the game.” Then comes a warning about the “whispers” out in the world that “tell you who you are / But only you and love decide.” There is advice about what to do when you “think there is nowhere safe”: “Watch a bird soar / and think, / Me too.” It asks readers to wonder: “If there was a sign on your chest / what would it say?” Children argue and show frustration and anger for reasons unclear to readers, then they hold up signs about themselves, such as “I am powerful” and “I am talented.” A girl looks hurt, and a boy looks “tough” until someone finds them “sitting there wondering / when the sky will blue.” While the words are general, the pictures specify a teacher, who is brown-skinned with straight black hair, as one who “can see you.” While young readers may find the wording unusual, even obscure in places, the nurturing message will not be lost.

Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-021-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone.

HOW I MET MY MONSTER

From the I Need My Monster series

In a tardy prequel to I Need My Monster (2009), candidates for that coveted spot under the bed audition.

As the distressingly unflappable young narrator looks on, one monster after another gives it a go—but even with three mouths, the best roar Genghis can manage is a puny “blurp!”, silly shadow puppets by shaggy Morgan elicit only a sneeze, and red Abigail’s attempt to startle by hiding in the fridge merely leaves her shivering and pathetic. Fortunately, there’s Gabe, who knows just how to turn big and hairy while lurking outside the bathroom and whose red-eyed stare and gross drooling sends the lad scrambling into bed to save his toes. “Kid, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship,” the toothy terror growls. Right he is, the lad concludes, snuggling down beneath the covers: “His snorts and ooze were perfect.” As usual, the white-presenting child’s big, bright, smiling face and the assortment of bumbling monsters rendered in oversaturated hues keep any actual scariness at tentacle’s length. Moreover, Monster, Inc. fans will delight in McWilliam’s painstaking details of fang, claw, hair, and scales.

Frightful and delightful: a comforting (to some, anyway) reminder that no one sleeps alone. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947277-09-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flashlight Press

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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