Monsters and Mayhem
New books offer fun, adventures and light scares for the summer.
The Too-Scary Story
By Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Best for: Ages 4-6
Parents with multiple children will relate to Papa when Grace and Walter ask for a bedtime story. Grace is the older of the two and she wants the story to be scary. Walter, on the other hand, doesn’t want it too scary. Walter speaks up every time he thinks Papa is going to make the story too scary, but Grace reminds Walter that she has a magic wand to protect them. As Papa tells the story, the illustrations show Grace and Walter pretending to be in the tale. When a creepy shadow figure begins to chase the siblings, they team up to defeat it and turn the shadow into Papa. This is a very light “scary story” for backyard camping or those nights when you huddle under your blanket fort.
What’s good: Engaging illustrations and strong premise.
What’s bad: The ending seems rushed.
Monster’s New Undies
By Samantha Berger
Illustrated by Tad Carpenter
Best for: Ages 4-7
What child doesn’t like to giggle about underwear? In Monster’s New Undies, Monster must face his fears of shopping for new underwear. He loves his old pair. Monster has worn them so much that they finally disintegrate. His mother takes Monster to Undie World to find a new pair. Nothing seems to be a good fit and Monster exhausts the store employees until he spies one pair of undies that looks just like his old pair. They are perfect. Kids will relate to the dread of shopping. They’ll also understand that change is difficult, but sometimes change should happen, especially with underwear.
What’s good: Fun rhyming and cute illustrations add humor and good pacing.
What’s bad: Your children will giggle about underwear for quite some time.
The Adventures of John Blake: Mysteries of the Ghost Ship
By Philip Pullman
Illustrated by Fed Fordham
Best for: Ages 8-12
The Mary Alice is a legendary ghost ship that disappears and reappears at different points in time. When Serena Henderson is washed overboard from her family boat, she is rescued by the mysterious Mary Alice and then vanishes. Serena is the story’s catalyst. Through her we learn about the characters—especially John Black—and history of the time traveling ship. We also learn about Carlos Dahlberg, a tech millionaire with secrets he wants to keep, and he’s willing to kill to do it. The setup for this graphic novel is slow, but if you hang with this one through the first half, the pacing and adventure pick up quickly.
What’s good: Expressive illustrative paneling helps strengthens the dialogue.
What’s bad: Uneven pacing may lose some readers.