A Mischief of Monsters (Priddy Books)

Hello friends, and Happy Halloween!! Our book today is Priddy Books’s A Mischief of Monsters, illustrated by Lisa and Damien Barlow, a festive board book of spooky critters.

Focusing on three main concepts – big and little, sounds, and action verbs – this sturdy board book features a colorful collection of furry, slimy, and squishy monsters of all shapes and sizes. Each spread shows a little monster and a big monster performing a set of rhyming actions (snore and roar, munch and crunch, etc). There are also tactile elements: raised and sunken features on each monster that fit into the monster on the opposite page.

Creepy yet cute. Bright colors and extremely creative, expressive creatures are a feast for the eyes, and the tactile elements are nicely done from both a visual and sensory standpoint. There are a few areas that falter a bit, however: the text is surprisingly small for this type of book, even with the action/noise words set in a larger typeface. There’s also a few pages that lean into the “gross” section of imaginary monsters, such as one that shows a small purple monster covered in green ooze (“squelches”) – it’s not the type of thing that would offend every kid or parent, but does appeal to a certain type of sensibility and humor. But overall, this is a fun, spooky-themed romp that most any little monster would enjoy – JJ certainly did! Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale (Lynne Marie)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the delightfully spooky Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale, written by Lynne Marie and illustrated by David Lorenzo.

In a creepy mansion, the three Scares – Papa (a Frankenstein-esque monster), Mama (a science-loving mummy with an iconic black-and-white bouffant), and Baby (a young, ginger vampire boy), prepare for a dreadfully delicious dinner. But the Alpha-Bat soup that Papa has cooked up is still too hot, so the three take their ghost hound, Plasma, for a walk while it cools. That’s when Moldilocks, a recently risen zombie girl, comes across the mansion. Filled with warm food and cozy furniture, Moldilocks makes herself at home, testing the three Scares’ accoutrements (often finding one of them to be “just right”). Taking a nap in Baby Scare’s bed, she doesn’t hear the spooky family return to their rifled-through items and already-eaten meal. Yet when the family finds the culprit, their reaction may come as a surprise…

At first, I figured this would be a typical fairy tale with a spooky filter that you see around the holiday; nothing against them, they can be fun if done well. However, I was SO pleasantly surprised by the real twist of this tale: it’s an adoption story. Teased early in the narrative that there’s a empty space in the Scares’ lives, when they find Moldilocks in Baby’s bed, they happily welcome her into their home and declare her part of the family. It’s a surprisingly heartwarming turn that gives the otherwise fun, silly monster story some emotional weight, and introduces a bit of inclusion for non-traditional families. The “horror” elements are relatively tame; even as a “zombie”, Moldilocks isn’t decayed, nor does she hunger for brains. The illustrations are a cute sort of creepy that kids who love Halloween spookiness and puns will appreciate. The length was great, and JJ loved it. This was a delightful surprise of a book, and a festive way to remember that a family doesn’t have to be biological to be “just right”. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Good Night, Little Monsters (Kara LaReau)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Good Night, Little Monsters, written by Kara LaReau and illustrated by Brian Won, a sweet bedtime story with a slightly spooky twist.

Readers are introduced to young monsters going through their bedtime routines – ones that they will recognize as similar to their own, while also being distinctly monsterly. A young “Frankenbaby” has his bolts loosened before he is tucked in, “Loch Nessie” snuggles between her larger parents, an upside-down vampire girl finishes her drink before brushing her fangs. Then, after the monsters have finished their nighttime rituals, the gang gathers in a tent under a moonlit night to enjoy a restful sleep while cuddling with all their pals.

Delightful! Filled with entertaining yet soothing rhyme, and featuring a cast of characters that veers well on the side of lovable rather than truly scary, this is a bedtime book perfect for “little monsters” of the human variety. The text has an excellent rhythm and flow, and JJ was easily able to recognize the similarities in her bedtime routine to the monsters’, which she loved. Won’s illustrations are adorable, using a colorful nocturnal palette to create the cute young monsters and their parents (the zombie family, shown as human in framed photos behind the baby zombie, may raise a few questions for adult readers, but kids aren’t likely to notice). The padded board book is a good length for right before bed, and we liked it a lot. Monstrously fun, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Kings Of The Castle (Victoria Turnbull)

Hello, friends! Today, we’re reviewing Kings Of The Castle by Victoria Turnbull, a lovely story of friendship breaking through barriers.

When night falls, young monster George is excited. He won’t waste a moment of the moonlight; tonight, his goal is to build the biggest sand castle ever. Unfortunately, his excitable dog Boris keeps impeding his progress. He is about to give up when a very strange and different-looking monster appears from the waves. George tries to say hello, but the monster, though friendly, doesn’t understand his language (though the new monster, Nepo, and Boris seem to understand each other’s yips and barks). George is ready to leave the new arrival, but Boris convinces him to give the newcomer a chance. And with a bit of creative thinking, George and Nepo find that they have much in common – including the desire to build a sandcastle more amazing than either could build alone.

This was a gorgeous story with a subtle yet powerful message. The adorable pair of George and Nepo, plus Boris, are illustrated in a gorgeous dreamlike style, with soft soothing colors that evoke a shoreline at night. But the story here is key: it’s a tale of reaching out, making connections, and showing kindness to those who may not look like you or even speak your language (to hear that Turnbull was drawing parallels to refugees is not a surprise). So while the characters and settings are firmly fantastical, the message of acceptance is as real and pertinent as it gets, and is imparted beautifully. The length is great, and JJ really enjoyed this one, so we are definitely calling it Baby Bookworm approved!

Monster Trouble! (Lane Fredrickson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Monster Trouble!, written by Lane Fredrickson and illustrated by Michael Robertson, a funny story about a fearless little girl with an unexpected pest problem.

Winifred Schnitzel is no shrinking flower: she’s a brave little girl who loves spooky stories, high adventure, even scary movies! Unfortunately, this is a great puzzle to her neighborhood monsters, for when they come to spook Winifred at night, she is less than impressed. The only thing those pesky monsters are accomplishing is keeping her awake! Winifred decides to scare the monsters away, and devises several plans using her wits and ingenuity. But after a few failed attempts, she is discouraged and exhausted. Fortunately, there’s one more trick up her sleeve, and it just may be the most effective monster repellent yet!

This was a fun story about overcoming challenges with an awesome girl-power twist! I loved that Winifred was not the least bit scared by her monsters from the get-go, instead facing them with a mindset of problem-solving rather than overcoming fears. It can encourage kids that monsters aren’t things to be scared of, just problems to be dealt with. What’s more, I love that Winifred used her brain and, ultimately, love to take care of her monster problems. The rhyming text flows well and is fun to read, and the illustrations are fun, energetic, and humorous. The length was fine, and JJ liked it a lot! This one is Baby Bookworm approved!