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The contest Save the Picture Book has ended. Telling people about funny, informative, beautiful, or generally awesome picture books continues. I also share middle grade books, book apps, and educational apps that my kids and I like.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Monster Reviews

Happy almost Halloween! If you're looking for books to read your kids or students on Monday, here is something funny, something sweet, and something scary.

First the funny. The Haunted Hamburger and Other Ghostly Stories by David LaRochelle, ill. by Paul Meisel. (Dutton, 2011.)

Do you know what a page turn is? In picture books, it's when you set up a joke or surprise on one page, and it comes to fruition when you turn the page. This book contains perhaps the best page turn I've seen.

But first the basics. The three ghostly stories are not only about ghosts but also told by a ghost: a father putting his ghost children to bed. The first story is about their Uncle Ned. When his attempts to scare various people fail, he marks an easy target: a baby. But the baby likes the ghost. He thinks its sheet is a blanky (hilariously, these ghosts are made of sheets.) This one has a great surprise ending, which made my kids laugh aloud.

But my favorite page turn was in the next story, "The Haunted Hamburger." In this, Cousin Nell seeks the Haunted Hamburger in the Haunted Forest to prove her bravery. She challenges the hamburger to various competitions, which the inanimate burger unwittingly participates in. When she asks it to make a scarier face than hers, the great page turn comes in! This picture book will make little and big kids laugh.

Next: sweet. Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, ill. by Scott Magoon. (Paula Wiseman, 2010.)

Bernadette is mostly monsterly, but she also likes to pick flowers and pet kittens. This leads to her not fitting in at monster school. (Sounds kind of like real school. Hey, let's pick on the nice kid!) Will the other kids balk at the greeting cards she makes them...or does Bernadette have a trick up her sleeve? What I love most about this book is that Bernadette finds a way to fit in while still being herself. That is a sweet, sweet compromise.

Finally, what could be scarier than a nonfiction book about monsters? Monsters by John Malam. (Qed, 2010)

Actually, it's only nonfiction in that myths are classified as nonfiction. But my sons thought the illustrations of monsters ranging from Flying Head to Hades, the three-headed dog of Heracles were pretty scary. I can only imagine how scary it must have been to live in a time when all scientific inquiries were answered through monsters. This book sparked a lively conversation about whether Hercules and Heracles were the same person. Answer: Heracles was a Greek God. His Roman name is Hercules.

Hope you read a funny, sweet, and scary picture book on Halloween. Now, I'm off to decorate our car for Trunk or Treat. The contest categories are, you guessed it, funny, sweet, and scary. Last year, I went for funny. Day of the Dead Grade School Students. On the board, it said: "Report cards go home today...and you're all dead!") It won scary instead, maybe because report cards really did go home that day. This year we're doing something like The Headless Substitute...going for sweet, of course.

Happy Halloween!


  1. Thanks for the nice review of Haunted Hamburger, Bridget! And tell us, did you win the decorated trunk contest this year?

  2. Yes! We won scariest. We ended up doing The Headless Horseman's Shop: We sell heads to the headless. It was a good theme for us because my mom had given us several mannequin heads and a styrofoam horse head. So if your horse was also headless, we had you covered!