Review of Anzu the Great Kaiju

Anzu the Great Kaiju Anzu the Great Kaiju
by Benson Shum; illus. by the author
Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp.    g
1/22    978-1-250-77612-9    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-250-86822-0    $10.99

Anzu is a Godzilla-like kaiju from a fearsome family of lightning-summoning, mountain-tossing monsters. Being a kaiju, Anzu wants to make his family proud, but there is a problem: his superpower is…flowers. When the day arrives to attack his first city, Anzu endearingly fails. Instead of destruction, he inspires dancing; rather than havoc, he sparks happiness. Left questioning his own kaiju-ness, Anzu is helped by his grandmother to deliver a city-shaking attack (“BOOOOOM!”), but Anzu’s satisfaction soon shifts to regret, leading the young kaiju to use his flower power (“BLOOOOOM!”) to repair the damage. This compassionate gesture earns the admiration of the city’s inhabitants and Anzu’s family, and, perhaps most importantly, allows the creature to name his own self-worth. “I may not strike fear like a great kaiju…But I am a good kaiju.” Shum’s animated watercolor, ink, and digital illustrations seamlessly navigate various page layouts, while the lush palette reflects Anzu’s ever-changing emotions. Nearly every visual element of the book (figures, sound effects, caption/panel borders, etc.) is rendered in a textured black line, resulting in a pleasingly cohesive aesthetic. More sweet than scary, this heartfelt story naturally incorporates specific elements of Japanese culture into impressive picture-book storytelling.

From the March/April 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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