Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Don't LOOK! There's a Dragon In Your Book by Tom Fletcher




... turn the page...? But it's a BOOK! What else are you going to do with it!

What hatches out of that egg! A soft baby chick? A fuzzy yellow duckie?

Of course not. That's for your usual story book. After all, there's a dead giveaway on the cover!

Yes--! What did you expect?


But if you tickle this cute little dragon, something unexpected happens. He sneezes with a huge AACHOOOO! That's not an unusual thing for a sneeze, but what happens if you turn the next page?

The sneeze turns into a flame, and then a fierce fireball which even scorches the edges of the pages!

What to do to stop the dragon's fire? Turning the page doesn't stamp it out, no matter how hard you pound the page!

What hyper-amazing super power does the young reader have to stop this literary conflagration?


And that's where the fun begins, as water balloons and ice cream cones and all sorts of cool fire-discouraging things appear to quench that little dragon's pyrotechnical tendencies to incinerate whatever is before him, in Tom Fletcher's brand-new There's a Dragon in Your Book (Random House, 2018), artfully enlivened by the cutest of little dragons in the illustrations of Greg Abbott. In this metafictional encounter with a fire-breathing dragonlet, youngsters can have lots of fun quelling, quenching, and quashing the fire-breathing propensities of this charming little critter, all in the spirit of Herve Tullett's now mega-famous metabook, Press Here (read review here).

Share this one with Fletcher's first book, There's a Monster in Your Book (review here) for more meta-fun!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Undersea Insomnia: The Pout-Pout Fish and the Can't Sleep Blues by Deborah Diesen

Pout-Pout Fish's seaweed seabed is soft and comfy. He's got on his nightcap, and his clock says it's bedtime.

So why are his eyes still open?

Mr. Fish's fins were full of vim.
Though he wanted to be dozing,
There were zero Zs for him.

"I'm wide awake."
It's hard to take
The can't-sleep blues.

But when it comes to insomnia, everybody is an expert. Ms. Clam advocates counting sheep. Mr. Eel suggests a touchy-feely swooshy-swooshy dance to invite relaxation. Mrs. Squid prescribes a blinking exercise to tire out his eyelids. His undersea pals mean well, but their tricks just don't seem to work for Pout-Pout Fish. He's still sleepless in Seaville.

Then his friend Miss Shimmi tells him to combine everyone's tricks and then trust his own way.

So Mr. Fish smooches his Snoozy Snuggly, allows the tide to lull him, and lets his thoughts drift to the sleepyside, in Deborah Diesen's somewhat soporific newest Pout-Pout bedtime story, The Pout-Pout Fish and the Can't-Sleep Blues (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure) (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018). Artist Dan Hanna's soft pastel illustrations are soothing and humorous, and Diesen's rhyme and rhythm may lull any insomniac listeners to float off to dreamland in this latest in this popular series. And if bedtime avoiders are still full of vim, swim over and pair this one with Diesen's and Hanna's Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish (A Pout-Pout Fish Mini Adventure) for another somnolent story.

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Monday, October 29, 2018

Heidi Heckelbeck and the Snoopy Spy by Wanda Coven

Heidi Heckelbeck and her best friend Lucy are hanging out in the privacy of her own bedroom, playing a game called "Would You, Could You?" and Heidi has just revealed that she would like to ask Stanley Stonewrecker to go with her to the movies.

Lucy shrieked in laughter. "I knew it all the time!"

Then something went BONK under Heidi's bed.

"Henry!" she screamed.

Henry wiggled out from under the bed. He had on a trench coat and a weird hat.

"Super Spy strikes again!" Henry cheered.

Tattling to Mom doesn't help. The next morning Heidi's All About Folder is not on her desk where she left it. It's nowhere to be found--until it turns up in Henry's backpack on the bus to school and he begins to read Heidi's remarks about her friend Bruce's science inventions. Heidi manages to get her work back, but at recess, she discovers that Henry is still spying on her--this time hiding in a bush beside basketball court and almost reveals her crush on Stanley in front of Heidi's rival, Melanie Maplethorpe.

Henry's constant spying is getting serious. Maybe it's time for Heidi to pull out her biggest personal secret from under her bed--her Book of Spells--and put a "total truth" spell on her little brother.

And the next morning Heidi finds out that her spell is indeed working. Henry just can't help telling the truth. He tells Mom she snores like a lion snarling and informs Dad that his scrambled eggs are really GROSS. The Heidi asks him the question that will prove to Mom and Dad that Henry is a serious snoop.

"Henry, did you sneak into my room last night and look at my Book of Spells?

Henry nodded happily. "Of course, I did. I looked for a diary, but all I could find was your crummy Book of Spells."

Dad forbids any more snooping, but Heidi doesn't have time before school to reverse the spell on Henry, and she begins to worry that he will be compelled to spill the beans about her spells and other inconvenient truths at school. And Heidi's worst fears are realized when she and Henry find themselves both on the carpet in Principal Pennypacker's office.

But Principal Pennypacker is a pro, unpacking that tangled web of truth-telling, and all's well that ends well in Wanda Coven's latest installment in her popular beginning chapter book series, Heidi Heckelbeck and the Snoopy Spy (Little Simon, 2018). It's all in the family when Heidi discovers what Henry really wants with all his snooping, and brother and sister learn that not all secrets should be told. With artist Priscilla Burris's comic blackline illustrations, this book is just right for primary grade readers, funny and with a bit of maybe magic.

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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Bunnicula Returns? Big Bunny by Rowboat Watkins

Once upon a time, there was a BIG BUNNY.

So begins the purported bedtime story, as parent and child cuddle cozily together in bed under a carrot-printed coverlet. Time for little bunnies to settle down to beddy-bye?

Not exactly. This BIG BUNNY is not cut out to be a warm and fuzzy bedtime bunny. In this fractured bedtime story, the young one, seeking something scary, kidnaps the main character, the would-be centerpiece of this nighty-night tale. He interrupts....

A ginormously SCARY bunny?

The parent tries to continue the narration of a regular big bunny who lives, not on a gigantic carrot asteroid careening in space, but a regular, round planet and eats, not monstrous carrots, but just nice normal orange carrots, not too small, carrots that...

When do we get to the SCARY part?

The storyteller tries to beef up the tale, allowing his Big Bunny to have terrible manners, eating ten carrots at a time, swallowing them whole. Truckloads of carrots....

Does Big Bunny EAT the trucks?

The narrator nixes any suggestions that the trucks have more taste and crunch, but does allow a concession, giving them a horrible fate--stuck in traffic-- requiring the penguins who drive the trucks to construct bridges to give them a way out of the jam.

Penguins drive trucks? This story is WORSE than traffic!

By this time, this bedtime bunny story is well on its way to becoming the story of the Big Bunny Who Ate Cleveland, or whatever city it is that he wants to crunch! The beleaguered storyteller objects, speaking with the voice of reason....


I wouldn't tell Big Bunny that.

By this time, our young storyline pirate has totally taken over the whole plotline, in Rowboat Watkins' bizarre bedtime story, Big Bunny (Chronicle Books, 2018). And, sure enough, there's still a surprise in Watkins' next-to-last two-page spread where the, um, crunchy identity of the two storytellers is revealed and a really SCARY conclusion is, well, foreshadowed! Rowboat Watkins' picture books are cleverly conceived and illustrated with an iconic and ironic sense of humor that pleases young readers. "The infectious fun continues to the ending, which will be—trust me—a giant, hilarious surprise to both parents and kids," says The New York Times Book Review.

Share this one with Watkin's weird hit story, Rude Cakes (see review here) and do not miss this chance to read the Aaron Reynolds' Caldecott-winning Creepy Carrots! and Creepy Pair of Underwear! (reviews here).

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Saturday, October 27, 2018

Doin' the Sleepytime Shuffle! Sean Awesome: A Mission at Night by Ms. Yellow and Mr. Wide

Mommy has laid down the law to Sean Awesome.

"You are a big boy now. You have to start sleeping in your own bed!

Mom and Dad Awesome have been patient with having a little visitor in their beds for quite a while. But now it's time to end the game of musical beds every night.

But Sean Awesome is having none of the new policy. The truth is that, although he is an awesome boy, he's afraid of being alone in his bed. So he comes up with a clever ploy.

Sean Awesome--Master of Disguise!

He covers himself with a black tablecloth which renders him invisible in the dark. The problem is, he can't see where he's going and bangs right into Mom and Dad's bedroom door. His mission is aborted abruptly.


But Sean Awesome is not dissuaded. He tries disguising himself in his Halloween snake costume, which has one inconvenience--snakes have no arms and therefore no hands to turn a doorknob. He wakes up Mommy, who repatriates him back to his own bed posthaste.  But Sean is not deterred.  He dons a black hat and shades and colors in a sinister mustache. His secret agent disguise can't fail! For a moment he thinks he's found success. Mom's spot in the bed is empty, but before he can slip in, she shows up and deports him back to his room. His caped crusader costume also fails, and Mom flies him back to his bed with breathtaking speed--with what is beginning to be her mantra.

"NO, SEAN!  YOU ... etc., etc., etc....!

It seems Sean's missions are becoming Mission Impossible. Will the Awesome family play revolving beds forever, or will Sean reconfigure his mission to include heroic solo sleeping?

Suffice it to say our hero finally goes where no Sean Awesome has gone before--to sleep in his own bed--in the pseudonymic Ms. Yellow and Mr. Wide's Sean Awesome: A Mission at Night (Simply Read Books, 2018), as the family's midnight rambler outgrows his nighttime bed switches. In this humorous look at a common bedtime bugaboo, little Sean Awesome puts on his astronaut suit and finds that he does indeed have the right stuff for this mission after all. The cut-paper, one-dimensional characters give this story a unique look, and youngsters will giggle at Sean's clever costume switching and perhaps be convinced that staying put at bedtime is A-OK.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

KEEP OUT! Polar Bear Island by Lindsay Bonilla



Parker Polar Bear, mayor of Polar Bear Island, has a policy. His island is perfect. Their population is just right as it is. But unknown to Parker, his domain is about to have a visitor.

Kirby waddled where the wind blew, and today she was floating toward paradise.

Kirby is a young penguin with wanderlust, and the wind is blowing her floating ice floe toward the beach of a snow-covered island.

Parker stops her at the border.

"Didn't you read the sign? Get out!"

Kirby pleads her case. She's made a long voyage, and Parker relents, allowing her on night on shore.

But while Kirby is rummaging through her luggage, the other polar bears notice something intriguing--her flipper slippers, which double as flipper warmers, and when reversed, as snow shoes.

All the bears want some, too, and Parker soon sets up a veritable Flipper Slipper Factory, helping the bears make their own.

"They're toasty warm and tons of fun!"

Parker is not pleased. Bears are not supposed to wear slippers on their paws.

"Start packing, penguin."

But the citizens of Bear Island protest the deportation, pleading a need for more production of slippers.  Parker bows to the populace and grants Kirby resident status. He add a new phrase to his sign:


But the happy hiatus doesn't last long. It seems Kirby has written to her relatives, touting the virtues of the island, and soon four members of her family show up on the beach, unpacking shovels and bed-sleds, creating snow cone flavors, and building snow slides right down to the sea.

Parker pitches a tantrum! He orders all the visitors off the island, but as he's ranting about the interlopers, he slips and falls on the ice. It's penguin paramedics to the rescue, and during his recuperation, Parker discovers the joys of bed-sleds, snow cones, and cozy flipper slippers for himself.

Parker has yet another change of policy:

You penguins weren't taking over our island! You're making it a better place!

Everyone agrees they're better together!

Sharp-eyed readers won't be surprised to spot a recuperated Parker painting a new welcome sign, in Lindsay Bonilla's Polar Bear Island(Sterling Children's Books, 2018) in this little parable of open-mindedness. Artist Cinta Villalobos' illustrations create comic images of a curmugeonly bear, perky inventive penguins, and a busy snow scene that add to the fun of this transformed island.

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Fright Night Sleuth! Trick or Treat? Who's That Hiding in the Dark by John Townsend

You'll never guess who I might be.
I live in a spooky old house...

Our narrator is a little cagey about what he is--although, for the sake of a rhyme, he says he's not...

... a mouse!

Yes, dear reader, you are going to have to go into that scary house, through that spooky door, through those thick and creepy cobwebs, and see who's hanging around inside, besides that big black spider.

Oh, you might spot a rat, but he's not running from a big black cat either. But who really resides in this spooky place? There's one more clue, but it's up to you.

My home is cold and damp and dark...

Wait... ! don't go down those stairs to the cellar... and whatever you do, don't open that...

There are the usual suspects for a haunted house behind every flap, in John Townsend's Who's That Hiding in the Dark? (Scribblers, 2018), a virtual walk-through of a visit to the neighborhood haunted house, and a good way to introduce the creepy candy customers who will present themselves at your own door on Halloween. Artist Fermin Solis provides the not-so-creepy comic versions of the usual Fright Time characters in this rhyming, just-in-time for the scary season toy-and-movable book.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Into the Dark: The Field by Ian Dawson

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Robinson sprinted down the final 100 meters of Meadowbrook Middle Schools' rubberized track. Out of the corner of his eye, Daniel could see that his best friend Kyle Hanson was on his tail, inching his way closer and closer to passing him. Not gonna happen, Daniel thought, his eyes fixed on the finishing line.

Sweat covered Daniel's face and stung his eyes but he didn't dare take the time to wipe it off. He had to beat his best time. He and Kyle were both planning to join the cross-country and track teams at high school. With his last remaining burst of energy, Daniel raced ahead of Kyle and buzzed past the P.E. teacher with her stopwatch.

Kyle slowed down to a jog next to him. "We're gonna kick butt at cross-country next year!" he said.

Daniel and Kyle had been best friends and friendly rivals since Kindergarten, and with middle school graduation behind them, they can't wait to spend their summer finishing the mapping of their symbol of summer freedom, The Field, a huge grassy area with rock outcroppings and a pond, bounded by a thick woods behind their subdivision. After a celebratory family cook-out Daniel agrees to stay over at Kyle's house, and the field calls them for a quick game of hide and seek in the back corner of the field where they haven't yet explored. As almost high school guys, they shrug off the story in the morning news about the little kid reported missing in that area, and grabbing their bikes, head off in late sunlight of June.

But also heading for that corner of the field are a pair of very different friends, Austin and James, older and engaged in a pernicious relationship in which Austin cruelly abuses James to keep him under his control. Austin and James have a far darker reason for being in the field that evening.

There were two rooms that Austin had created that branched off the main tunnel, the Torture Room and the Trophy Room. There was something about the look in Austin's eyes when he was torturing and killing animals that made James wish he had never encountered his "friend." And yet, he was, once again entering the Torture Room for one of Austin's surprises. Were those small human hands he was seeing zip-locked to the top of the cinderblock?

"Meet our new pal, Colby Emerson!" Austen said as he lifted the kid up by his neck.

In true horror-tale tradition, readers will be silently screaming, "No, don't go into that field," but the boys do, Daniel splitting off to hide first, where after a breath-holding pursuit he is captured and falls victim to Austin's torture plans. James has already lost an eye to Austen's domination and is terrified of him, and when it grows dark and Kyle realizes that Daniel is not playing a prank, he realizes that something bad must have happened and sets out to find his friend.

Spotting Daniel's clumsily hidden bike off a remote road, Kyle approaches the seedy house where Daniel is being held and overhears Austen's plan to torture and skin Daniel alive.

Daniel tilted his neck downward and saw his hands and feet duct taped together. He felt sick and hoped he wouldn't throw up. With the tape around his mouth, if he vomited he would choke and die. And he wasn't going to give these two monsters that satisfaction. He was going to fight.

Not for the faint of heart, in this just published young adult thriller, The Field (BookBaby, 2018), author Ian Dawson skillfully plays off the contrasts with the parallel types of adolescent relationships, the difference between psycholotic dependence and loyal friendship.

Along the way Dawson builds the tension to a high level of suspense as Kyle uses everything he's got to save himself and his friend. It's a heart-racing, cliffhanger of a thriller, one that will have readers checking their doorlocks, with an all-too-believable premise, reinforced by the author's actual childhood experience. A believable, suspenseful novel, well-paced and well written, this one is for those who crave a real chiller-diller of a read.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

'Fess Up the Mess Up! Even Superheroes Make Mistakes by Shelly Becker

When superheroes are not up to speed,
when they slip up, and trip up, and fail to succeed...

They could cry, or deny, or claim it's not fair,
or rip off their cloaks and quit in despair.

Everybody makes mistakes, but nobody likes to admit it when they do.

Superheroes have super powers that would make it super easy to cover up their screw-ups. But THEY DON'T!

If they miss the real felon, they don't start yellin'
that it's not their fault--they were locked in the vault.

If their homemade cake is too salty,
it's not the corner baker who's faulty.

But ashamed superheroes who goofed up somehow,
first stop and consider what's best to do NOW.

In Shelly Becker's latest, Even Superheroes Make Mistakes (Sterling Children's Books, 2018), superheroes don't dodge the blame bullet. When they mess up, they 'fess up, and when they nap, they take the rap.

When superheroes are not up to speed,
when they slip up, and trip up, and fail to succeed...

They could hang their heads down; they could but they don't!
Because real superheroes just wouldn't, they won't!

Artist Eda Kaban's in-motion illustrations offer lots of laughs at the legions of ways there are for various superheroes to slip up, but winners don't whine, and the supers learn from their bloopers. There are some serious life lessons about personal responsibility here, softened by Becker's lighthearted rhythmic rhyming quatrains and Kaban's comic portrayals of heroes taking pratfalls as we all do. For a super pair, share this one with Becker's earlier superhero story, Even Superheroes Have Bad Days (Read my 2017 review here.)

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Pumpkin Plenty! It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numberoff


It's a tall order for a small mouse to decorate seven pumpkins, but this mousekin has plenty of ideas for each one.

On one big pumpkin he paints the iconic happy face.

One gets a very sad face.

Then he paints one with a goofy face, followed by one exclaiming in surprise! Next...

Mouse is on a roll--until he notices something strange!


Mouse looks around! What's that?!? That's a mean and frightening Jack O'Lantern. Mouse never painted anything that scary! Where did that one come from?

Could Dog be the culprit? His giggle is suspicious.

Turning pumpkins into Jack o' Lanterns is half the fun of Halloween, in It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! (If You Give...) (Balzer and Bray), and Mouse finally finishes off his duties with the friendliest Jack in the pumpkin patch in author Laura Numeroff's and artist Felicia Bond's Halloween story for fans of the boy and mouse featured in their best-selling series begun with If You Give A Mouse A Cookie. This one may help tots about to experience their first pumpkin-decorating fun get some ideas about which pumpkin face they want to choose.

For more pumpkin-carving tot-time fun, share this one with Leslie Petrocelli's adorable Boo! (Leslie Patricelli board books) (see review here).

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Getting In The Game! Grow Up, David! by David Shannon


When their bathroom is littered with toothbrushes and oozing toothpaste tubes, an unreeling roll of toilet paper, and a toy airplane in the potty, there's no doubt which brother is the perpetrator.

David crawls under the table and ties his big brother's shoelaces together. He eats all the cute mini chocolate bars from his  brother's trick-or-treat pumpkin.

There's a recurring theme in his big brother's refrain:


And there's good reason for that. David is a double-dyed pesky little brother. He wakes his brother up early on a Saturday morning when he trying to catch some extra Zs. He grabs the football and runs through the big boy's game like a little buzz saw on the loose. He won't stay out of his older brother's forbidden tree house hangout and spirits away his brother's photo of a special girl in his class. He provokes his brother into righteous retribution, when he trips David on purpose and with a wicked big-brother snicker wishes David a "good trip!" But David always claims his brother "started it!"

What can a big brother say, but...


And in his latest title, author-illustrator David Shannon's Grow Up, David! (David Books) (Blue Sky Press, 2018), author Shannon gives a hint as to the reason for all these pesty shenanigans: David is desperate for some attention. And David is overjoyed when he is allowed in the big boys' game and actually manages to makes quite a move.


Shannon's narrative is simple but telling, while his signature illustrations portray the comic interplay between the siblings. While it's easy to see why David's big brother hopes he'll outgrow his pesky little-brother behavior, David's legions of fans will say, "No, David! Don't ever grow up!" David Shannon's ebullient younger brother is always good for a laugh-filled tale, and his many comic escapades have engendered a generation of giggles from youngsters who have taken glee in his misdeeds. But there's a certain sweetness in David's little-boy mischief that is always lovable, in its own way, showing young readers the way, the why, and the wherefore, of good behavior.

Other books in this series are the Shannon's first book, No, David! which won a Caldecott Honor Award for his inimitable illustrations, and sequels David Goes To School, David Gets In Trouble, Oh, David! A Diaper David Book, Oops! (A Diaper David Book) and and It's Christmas, David! (See reviews here.)

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Family Benefits! We Blend Well Together by Patrice Shavone Brown

Caleb worries out loud that he doesn't remember his mom and dad together.

"I hate it: the other parents of other kids at school are together." he tells his mother.

It's not like he's lonely, he admits. Caleb lives with his mom, step-father, sister, and brother.

And on weekends, at his dad's house, he has a brother to play with. But somehow he still feels like he's missing something.

But his mom points out that, unlike some of those kids at school, Caleb has a BIG family--four parents and lots of siblings.

"At your soccer game your blended family was there! Were you happy?"

Not every kid gets his own cheering cheering section. Mom tells him. And when he wins an award at school, he has a whole group of fans to clap for him. At graduation his family made up a crowd all by themselves. The more the merrier! And--when Christmas time comes around...

"The bigger your family, the more you get!"

There is plenty to celebrate in a family that blends well, in Patrice Brown's We Blend Well Together. Families come in all kinds, and there are plenty of blended families around to show that it takes all kinds to make a world--and a lot of love. Patrice Brown's book helps kids in combined family formats learn to appreciate the advantages that come with a loving extended family.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Wanna Spook a Spook? How to Scare A Ghost by Jean Reagan


It's like the old saw about making rabbit stew: first you have to catch the rabbit. And to spook a spook, the season in which you look is important!


Make your house and yard look appealing to ghosts. Conceal scarecrows (but not that well) in the backyard so the specters will feel at home. Park a few creepy Jack o' lanterns around the place. Crank up the speakers with some scary sounds. At school be sure to do some Halloween-y stuff, like bobbing for apples and putting out black-and-orange cupcakes. Ghosts are also attracted by the smell of glue and the sparkle of glitter in homemade decorations.

But be forewarned: it's not so easy to recognize a ghost at Halloween. There are lots of kids in sheets or store-bought costumes. But there's one sure way to tell. Invite the suspected spook home after school on the day your mom always vacuums the house.

Ghosts (and cats) are terrified of vacuum cleaners!

There are other sure ways to tell a ghost from a kid in costume.

Try the seesaw test: if the sure-enough spook sits down on the high side, it doesn't go down. Or, try the trampoline test:


But by the time the potential ghost is verified, he's more like a buddy who needs some trick-or-treating tips, one who'll give you all his stash, in Jean Reagan's latest in her popular How To series, How to Scare a Ghost (Alfred A. Knopf, 2018). Artist Lee Wildish again adds his comic sight gags to this Halloween How To manual, as when the friendly ghost, in a loaner robot costume, forgets himself and floats too high, scaring the bystanders when they see he has ...


This newest for youngsters by Reagan and Wildish is a lighthearted look at the scary season. Says Publishers Weekly,"... a playful Halloween story for readers not ready for scarier fare."

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ghoulish Grads! Fright School by Janet Lawler

A darkening school on an autumn night
With moonlight streaming in,
Echoes with a midnight bell
For classes to begin.

Who goes to school at midnight?

It's a ghoul school, so monsters matriculate happily where the curriculum instructs them on how to haunt on Halloween.

In some ways it's like a regular school. Skeletons skateboard to class. Young bats with braces on their fangs wear Gothic black, Dracula tries to sleep through class, and ghosts try to disappear into the woodwork when they can't find their homework.

Picky eaters groan, "Our apples don't taste rotten."

The devilish janitor grumbles at werewolves who don't wipe their paws, and the school nurse is always running out of gauze for the mummies.

But now everything is focused toward graduation on Halloween, of course. Clutching diplomas, the new grads toss their caps and head out into the night because it is time to try to terrify this year's trick-or-treaters--if they dare!

"WE DO FRIGHT RIGHT!" is the school motto in Janet Lawler's spoof of a spook academy in her new Fright School (Albert Whitman, 2018), illustrated with humorous take-offs of the school scene with whimsical skill by Chiara Galletti. Share this one with Lola Schaeffer's equally spooktacular spoof, Frankie Stein Starts School (see review here).

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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Spoofy Spookapedia! Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters by Rachel Kolar




It's time for the venerable Mother Goose Rhymes to get a little spooky spoofing, and in Rachel Kolar's Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters (Sleeping Bear Press, 2018), it is parody of a very elegant sort, perfectly preserving the rhythm and meter of the original well- known verses

Favorite nursery rhyme characters get their chance to dress up for the occasion and take on a scarier persona for Fright Night.

Mary had a little ghost; his face was white as cloud.
Everywhere that Mary went, he followed in his shroud.

Little Boy Drac has bats in his belfry instead of sheep in his meadow, and Old Mother Hubbard finds, not a bone in her cupboard, but an angry skeleton who won't part with any of his parts. And Mary, Mary, still contrary, is also "Mary, Mary, tall and scary" who grows tombstones all in a row in her graveyard instead of silver bells.

Wee Willie Werewolf runs down the street,
Upstairs, downstairs, on his clawed feet.

But this Wee Willie is not growling at kids late to bed, but warning the monsters of the coming sunrise. It's all great fun for slightly scary holiday reading, with intricate illustrations in evocative blacks and purples by artist Roland Garrigue. This is a fine holiday treat for youngsters who like their monster rhymes with tongue in cheek, great for reading in bed or reading aloud. Says Publishers Weekly, "The poems may inspire kids to try their own spooky adaptations—-there are an unlucky 13 nursery rhymes here, and “Jack and Jill” is still up for grabs."

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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The New Monster Mash? Monster Boogie by Laurie Berkner


The kids are nestled all snug in their beds, when... SOMETHING big, with horns, fangs, and claws comes through the door!


But the kids don't scream and run! They get up and DANCE!

They turn a little purple and begin to giggle, as the monster shows them how to do the Monster Wiggle!

Laurie Berkner, the famous song and dance gal for the preschool set, has an new assistant who knows how to twist and shout, in her latest dance book, Monster Boogie (Simon and Schuster, 2018). As depicted in the lively illustrations of the noted artist Ben Clanton, this monster is not exactly pretty, but he gets the tots away from their screens and moving--a good thing any day. Other books about polishing those monster moves are David Catrow's Monster Mash and Josie Bissett's Boogie Monster (read reviews here).

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