A delicious scare for audiences ready for chills.

GHASTLY GHOSTS

When Dave inherits a remote cottage, the house speaks to him. Literally.

The hinges on the door “squeeeeeak,” the bathroom pipes “moooan,” and the cellar “waaillls.” Dave takes it all in stride, but he wishes for a human voice—but that night, he hears, “Ghastly ghosts in the old coal shed!” Dave tries to shake his fear, but the voice repeats the phrase in an ever louder voice as expressive illustrations capture Dave’s increasing alarm. When the fireplace coal burns down, Dave is cold enough to steel himself for a trip to the monstrous coal shed. Braving the “ghastly ghosts,” Dave gains their respect by requesting their help gathering coal and inviting them to share his fire—if they can “find something ELSE to say!” Practiced picture-book readers will appreciate the subtext in the cheery, cartoon illustrations, such as the cat companion that mimics Dave’s actions and reactions and the potential friends hiding in the shadows. This is a great rhyming read-aloud, especially if the reader’s voice embraces the drama. Before the story resolves on a happy note (Dave is playing his fiddle while surrounded by new friends, both spectral and otherwise), the tension escalates until the ghastly ghosts are finally confronted. Dave presents as a spry, gray-bearded white man.

A delicious scare for audiences ready for chills. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-2864-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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Kid-friendly dark humor.

POULTRYGEIST

The chicken crosses the road…and arrives on the other side as a ghost.

The action kicks off before the title page when the chicken crossing the road winds up a splatter of feathers against the grille of a tractor trailer. When its ghost rises from the squished remains, it meets a host of other animal ghosts that encourage the new poultrygeist to start getting scary. They probably didn’t realize, however, that they’d be the ones to be frightened. Geron’s text is full of punny lines like “It’s time to get foul, fowl!” and “Ghosts of a feather haunt together!” Midway through, the poultrygeist turns to readers to make sure they’re not too scared. This is a nice touch, maintaining engagement while also giving more timid readers time to take a beat. Oswald’s illustrations display masterful use of color, with bright, ghostly animals against a dark, often all-black background, the dialogue shown in colors that correspond to the speakers. These ghosts do become scary but not enough to completely terrorize readers. Oswald’s skill is seen in full effect, as readers witness only the animal ghosts’ reactions to the poultrygeist’s scariest face, building suspense for the full reveal. This book is just right for kids easing into the slightly scary and macabre but who still want a safe and fun read.

Kid-friendly dark humor. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1050-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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