Little Monster takes the idea of a story from something on a page to something to be lived.

I WANT TO BE IN A SCARY STORY

Little Monster wants to be in a scary story…or maybe not.

In a tale told entirely in dialogue, an unseen narrator, whose text is set in black type, interacts with purple Little Monster, who, following suit, speaks in purple. The enthusiastic (and adorable, with two little white horn nubbins on its oversize head, big yellow eyes, and three teeth that sometimes change position) Little Monster eschews the narrator’s idea that it star in a funny story—it wants a scary story. But when the narrator plops it down in a dark and scary wood outside a haunted house, Little Monster’s dialogue bubble says “Oh my golly gosh!” Its body language and wide-eyed fright fill in the gaps. The narrator dials back the scary in stages, Little Monster’s quaint expressions continuing as everything is still too frightening for it—though it does lose some of its naiveté along the way, learning to ask specific questions of the narrator. Jullien’s illustrations are suitably creepy, but because the narrator tells Little Monster in advance what will happen with each turn of the page, they shouldn’t be anything readers can’t handle, and the jump at the end is a satisfying one. And after the final page, readers may just be asking along with Little Monster, “So, can I be in a story again tomorrow?”

Little Monster takes the idea of a story from something on a page to something to be lived. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8953-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again.

WE'RE GOING ON A GOON HUNT

Hunt for a bear? That’s so yesterday.

On a spooky Halloween night, we’re hunting for…a green GOON. We’re not really scared. Let’s start in a pumpkin patch. We can’t go over or under it, so we’ll just go through it. We’ll do the same in other likely goon hideouts: a swamp, a tunnel, a forest, a graveyard, and, finally, a haunted house. In this atmospheric “petrifying parody” of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, a dad and his four kids, dressed in Halloween finery and accompanied by their costumed pup, search for the elusive quarry. They become more frightened (particularly dad and pooch, even from the outset) as they proceed along the increasingly murky path—except for the youngest, unicorn-outfitted child, who squeals a delighted welcome to whatever creature unexpectedly materializes. As in the classic original, evocative sound effects (“Gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss, gurgle hiss!”) ring out as the quintet moves through each hazard. Unsurprisingly, the group locates the goon, forcing them to retrace their steps home in a frenzied hurry, odd noises and all. They reach safety to discover…uh-oh! Meanwhile, someone’s missing but having a ball! Even readers who’ve never read or heard about the bear expedition will appreciate this clever, comical, fast-paced take. The colorful line illustrations are humorously brooding and sweetly endearing, with the family (all members present White) portrayed as growing steadily apprehensive. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-20.8-inch double-page spreads viewed at 74.6% of actual size.)

Young readers will hunt out this enjoyable crowd pleaser again and again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984813-62-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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