No need to invest in this “store.” (Picture book. 4-7)

THE MONSTORE

If only monsters could be purchased to help out with everyday challenges such as gobbling up icky casseroles, providing the perfect amount of glow when it is dark or “frighten[ing] pesky little sisters.”

This is a story of such a place—a monstore—that is difficult to find and has a very strict refund policy: “No returns. No exchanges.” Zach is fed up with his younger sister Gracie’s intrusions into his bedroom. At the Monstore, he purchases a fearsome, red, three-eyed creature named Manfred to keep Gracie out of his space. Instead, Manfred shows Gracie his hiding place, and then they both scare Zach. Exasperated with Manfred’s performance, he tries to take him back. The Monstore manager holds firm to his policy but suggests he add another. “Monsters make bigger scares in pairs.” And so things go with Mookie and Mojo and more, until the house is full of ineffectual creatures. Zach decides to move to the basement, but soon Gracie comes to him for help with a particularly scary, “glitzy, glittery thing.” The siblings’ relationship mended, Gracie comes up with a plan to deal with the out-of-control monster overflow. Appealing though the premise is, the joke is dragged out a few monsters too many, and though Burks’ illustrations have a pleasant, Pixar-esque feel, the story just isn’t terribly memorable.

No need to invest in this “store.” (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 4, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2017-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy.

ROBOBABY

Robo-parents Diode and Lugnut present daughter Cathode with a new little brother—who requires, unfortunately, some assembly.

Arriving in pieces from some mechanistic version of Ikea, little Flange turns out to be a cute but complicated tyke who immediately falls apart…and then rockets uncontrollably about the room after an overconfident uncle tinkers with his basic design. As a squad of helpline techies and bevies of neighbors bearing sludge cake and like treats roll in, the cluttered and increasingly crowded scene deteriorates into madcap chaos—until at last Cath, with help from Roomba-like robodog Sprocket, stages an intervention by whisking the hapless new arrival off to a backyard workshop for a proper assembly and software update. “You’re such a good big sister!” warbles her frazzled mom. Wiesner’s robots display his characteristic clean lines and even hues but endearingly look like vaguely anthropomorphic piles of random jet-engine parts and old vacuum cleaners loosely connected by joints of armored cable. They roll hither and thither through neatly squared-off panels and pages in infectiously comical dismay. Even the end’s domestic tranquility lasts only until Cathode spots the little box buried in the bigger one’s packing material: “TWINS!” (This book was reviewed digitally with 9-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

A retro-futuristic romp, literally and figuratively screwy. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-544-98731-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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Maybe these kids should try babysitting Santa.

HOW TO CATCH SANTA

From the How To... series

The creators of the bestselling How to Babysit a Grandpa (2012) and How to Babysit a Grandma (2014) continue their series with this story about a brother and sister who want to capture Santa on his annual visit to their home.

The children discuss improbable ideas for spotting or catching Santa, including a complicated sequence with notes to lure Santa up to their bedroom. They wait up for Santa, and a nighttime view of Santa and the reindeer on the neighborhood’s roofs makes his arrival seem imminent. Then, in a disappointing conclusion, the children fall asleep with no sign of Santa’s arrival. In the morning it’s clear Santa has been there, as the presents are under the tree and the cookies and carrots have been eaten. There is a trail of red glitter leading to the chimney from the letter the kids sent to Santa, but that’s the only surprise this story has to offer. Readers might be expecting some sort of exciting trap for Santa or some clever way the children get to meet him or ride in his sleigh. No…just a sprinkle of red glitter. Digitally produced illustration are bright and cheery, with cute kids and amusing details, but sharp-eyed readers will notice the decorated Christmas tree in the living room is inexplicably placed in four different locations on different pages.

Maybe these kids should try babysitting Santa. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-49839-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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