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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See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you.

KIYOSHI'S WALK

A neighborhood walk unleashes the power of poetry.

Kiyoshi, a boy of Japanese heritage, watches his poet grandfather, Eto, write a poem in calligraphy. Intrigued, Kiyoshi asks, “Where do poems come from?” So begins a meditative walk through their bustling neighborhood, in which Kiyoshi discovers how to use his senses, his power of observation, and his imagination to build a poem. After each scene, Eto jots down a quick poem that serves as both a creative activity and an instruction for Kiyoshi. Eventually Kiyoshi discovers his own poetic voice, and together the boy and his grandfather find poems all around them. Spare, precise prose is coupled with the haiku Kiyoshi and his grandfather create, building the story through each new scene to expand Kiyoshi’s understanding of the origin of poems. Sensory language, such as flicked, whooshed, peeked, and reeled, not only builds readers’ vocabulary, but also models the vitality and precision of creative writing. The illustrations are just as thoughtfully crafted. Precisely rendered, the artwork is soft, warm, and captivating, offering vastly different perspectives and diverse characters who make up an apparently North American neighborhood that feels both familiar and new for a boy discovering how to view the world the way a poet does. Earth tones, coupled with bright yellows, pinks, and greens, draw readers in and encourage them to linger over each spread. An author’s note provides additional information about haiku.

See, hear, touch, taste, smell...and imagine poetry all around you. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-62014-958-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time.

SHE WANTED TO BE HAUNTED

Which cottage would stand out more in a real estate ad: cute or…haunted?

Clarissa the sentient cottage dislikes cuteness; as a pink, adorable haven for flowers and squirrels, she’s bored. She yearns to be scary and haunted like her father, a gloomy castle, and her mother, a smelly, vermin-infested witch’s hut. Dad gladly donates clouds but tells Clarissa it’s OK to be herself. The clouds are a bust because they bring rain, which brings forth…a rainbow, plants, and birds. Mom supplies a reeking bottle whose contents allegedly repel living things. Clarissa opens it but…attracts playful dogs. Finally abandoning her desire for a ghostly boarder, Clarissa invites her animals to remain. At the end, a particular creature’s unexpected arrival—and its most uncharacteristic behavior—reveal Clarissa’s true nature: horrible and cute. And she’s just fine with that. This rhyming story is certainly an unusual take on the finding-oneself trope. The bouncy verses mostly read and scan well, include sophisticated vocabulary, and provide Clarissa with a spunky, appealing personality. Different typefaces represent the voices of Clarissa, each parent, and the narrator. The cheerful, lively illustrations are very colorful but a trifle twee; Clarissa and her parents are differentiated through vivid pinks, dreary shades, and anthropomorphic faces. Nature blossoms via bright depictions of flowers, trees, animals, and birds.

Not necessarily just for Halloween; readers can appreciate it any time. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68119-791-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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