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Monster mash

What goes bump in the night? Maybe it’s a monster, but maybe it’s a new friend — or maybe it’s both! These monstrously silly picture books are perfect treats for a Halloween story time.

brown_marisol-mcdonald-and-the-monsterIn Monica Brown’s Marisol McDonald and the Monster / Marisol McDonald y el monstruo, the little-girl protagonist explores words beginning with the letter M. One M word, however, scares Marisol: “Monster! / ¡Monstruo!” A “BUMP” in the night fills Marisol’s mind with worrisome questions. She comes up with a characteristically imaginative answer, and then learns the real, not-so-scary cause of the sound. The plot zips along, and Adriana Dominguez preserves the text’s tone nicely in her Spanish translation. In Sara Palacios’s mixed-media art, everything from Marisol’s “mismatched and marvelous” clothes to the lumpy family dog sparkles with color and personality. (Lee & Low/Children’s Book Press, 4–7 years)

john_quit-calling-me-a-monster“I’m no monster! Just because I have horns. And wild eyes. And fangs…” A pear-shaped, purple-fur-covered, er, creature speaks directly to listeners in Jory John’s Quit Calling Me a Monster!. He might howl, roar, and growl; he could be lurking under the bed or in the closet — but people shouldn’t be afraid of him. “It really hurts my feelings.” This not-a-monster’s appearance and behavior belie his message; the cognitive dissonance between text and pictures is what makes the book funny. Bob Shea’s kinetic illustrations take full advantage of the humorous premise and offer Floyd — that’s the narrator’s name, by the way — loads of character. (Random House, 4–7 years)

ohora_not so quiet libraryIn The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah OHora, Oskar and his bear Theodore’s quiet reading is interrupted by loud crashing and booming. An enormous green foot smashing down through the entire left-hand page perfectly counterpoints the understated text: “It appeared there was a monster in the library.” Just as the monster, who hates books because they aren’t very tasty, decides that Oskar and Theodore would make a better snack, the librarian steps in with an announcement: “STORY TIME, EVERYONE!” Story time solves everything, of course. The narrative’s deadpan humor works well with the entertaining speech-bubble dialogue and clever page layouts. (Dial, 4–7 years)

lehrhaupt_i-will-not-eat-youAnother Theodore, this one the protagonist of I Will Not Eat You by Adam Lehrhaupt, also wants some peace and quiet. He struggles to find any with all the loud creatures causing ruckus outside his cave home. When a noisy boy in a knight costume gallops up on a stick horse and roars right at Theodore (“Seriously? thought Theodore. I should eat it.“), he emerges from his cave, revealing himself to be a giant red dragon. The fearless boy sticks his toy sword up Theodore’s nose, and an angry chase begins. Before long, though, the two are falling down giggling, and a new friendship begins. The well-paced, entertaining tale is accompanied by Scott Magoon’s bold digital illustrations, full of amusing character and suspense. (Simon and Schuster/Wiseman, 4–7 years)

From the October 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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