Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters (Candlewick Press, $14.99, Ages 3-7) by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Kelly Murphy is reviewed by Ronna Mandel.
I love all the wild and wacky ways illustrators design monsters in children’s books and the monsters in Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters are just that – wild and wacky! That’s one of the reasons why this picture book works so wonderfully. The other reason is that the combination of Yolen’s rhymes (short, sweet and silly) with Murphy’s humorous artwork had me lingering on every page.
This sequel to Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters is packed with every type of monster imaginable, but none to scary to put off a youngster at bedtime. Hanging out in a park (aka Creepy Commons), the assorted monsters in Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters come in many shapes, sizes and colors. Some have scales, others have tentacles. Readers will spot winged, one-eyed, three-eyed, and bulging-eyed monsters. Some monsters are pink, others are purple. I liked the two-legged monsters, but there are also some with four. There’s even a monster with extremely long, stretchy arms, perfect for playing jump rope!
In Romping Monsters, Stomping Monsters, a monster mom (clutching her shoulder bag) takes her two monster kids to play in the park where they’re greet by a bevy of monster buddies. Kids will want to closely inspect every page because there are lots of giggle-worthy antics going on. Yolen’s read-aloud rhymes are fun and offbeat, in other words, ideal for your very own little monster:
Monsters in three-legged races
Their monster faces.
What a perfect park Murphy’s envisioned with a lake, fountains, statues, pavilions, and plenty of wide open space for monsters to run around in to their monster hearts’ content. And for a frozen treat when monsters are hot and teeter-tottered out, there’s a monster-sicle vendor. Yolen’s also added a touch of monster mischief around a water fountain, when the bigger sibling of this story goes a bit overboard. But the monster mom insists sibling monsters make up in the end. Does everyone go home from Creepy Commons happy? What do you think?
The leaves are changing color, there’s a cool breeze in the air, nights are longer, baseball season’s winding down, pumpkin patches are popping up on every other corner and bags of candy are already stacked a mile high on supermarket shelves. It must mean Halloween’s on the horizon. And to get the excitement brewing, we’re giving away a bunch of books for boys and ghouls (and one for parents as well) to enjoy before their big night out. Scroll to the bottom for more info after reading all the reviews.
Bedtime For BOO ($10.99, A Golden Book, ages 2 and up) written by Mickie Matheis and illustrated by Bonnie Leick is a real treat. Young Boo is going to stay up late to go a-haunting and, as little ones can imagine, Boo’s thrilled. Always with a smile on his face, Boo will swirl through the sky, whoosh past an owl and stir up the leaves as part of the fun. But soon bedtime beckons and Mama Ghost wants young Boo to go to sleep even though he claims to not be tired. “Listen to the sounds of the house,” Mama Ghost suggests. All around you can hear noises from bats flapping, footsteps tapping, mice squeaking and doors creaking. Of course there are black cats hissing and wolves howling all included in rhyme that a parent can whisper as the book nears its end. What could be scary is actually comforting when shared from a sweet little ghost’s perspective. I found the illustrations to be perfectly suited to the text and when kids are less tired they, too, will want to study every page.
Last Laughs: Animal Epitaphs($16.95, Charlesbridge, ages 7-10) written by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen with illustrations by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins is just the kind of offbeat picture book that is at times ever so subtly humorous and other times outright in your face. Either way, the variety of the verses are clever and catchy and the gray-toned artwork is moody and evocative with the occasional surprising smidgen of scarlet. Look closely, too, or you might miss some very funny touches Timmins has tossed in to keep you on your toes as you walk amongst the tombstones. Whether the creatures have been crushed, fallen ill or been struck while crossing the street (see page 6 Chicken Crosses Over), the myriad methods of demise are as hysterical as the epitaphs! I have a feeling this original and whacky poetry book might just tickle a few funny bones and get more than a few kids eager to try their hand at a few epitaphs this fall. With a chill in the autumn air, it’s really the right time of year to nurture all those budding Edgar Allan Poes.
Making a Jack-o’-Lantern, Step by Step (Captsone/A+ Books: Step-by-Step Stories, ages 5 and up) by J. Angelique Johnson is a terrific book for children parents will want to have on hand for a variety of reasons. First, the photos are fantastic! They help to illustrate the simple, straight forward text and are so good they could work without words though not for a beginner pumpkin carver. Second, the book is divided into 4 easy steps or mini-story chapters so a child can learn sequencing along with just enjoying young Elliot’s first time helping his dad find, set-up for, prepare and finally carve a Jack-o’-Lantern. At the end readers are rewarded with seeing the fab finished product and also have a chance to participate in a photo sequencing activity. Also provided are a helpful glossary, reading recommendations and internet sites for more fun after finishing the book. So parents, while this may be a messy activity, it will be worth every minute! Other books in this series are: Fighting a Fire, Getting a Pet, and Recycling.
Halloween Howlers: Frightfully Funny Knock-Knock Jokes ($6.99, Harper Festival, ages 5-8) by Michael Teitelbaum with pictures by Jannie Ho will make your child’s All Hallow’s Eve and the days leading up to it a laugh a minute. Whimsical, colorful illustrations pair well with humor like “Knock, knock! Who’s there? Disguise! Disguise who? Disguise giving me the creeps!” I counted over two dozen jokes, lots with funny lift-the-flaps that help make this inexpensive book something different to send along to school to spice up a lunch box or to stuff into a backpack to make the bus ride home a giggle fest or even to give out as a Halloween season birthday party favor.
Glitterville’s Handmade Halloween: A Glittered Guide for Whimsical Crafting!($19.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing) by Stephen Brown (craft expert and judge on TLC’s Craft Wars) is for folks who are crafty in the positive sense of the meaning. Are you one of those people like Good Reads With Ronna reviewer Debbie Glade who can make something fantastic out of just about anything or are you like me whose claim to fame is the Pilgrim Placeholders I made for Thanksgiving six years ago from toilet paper rolls. I need good photos, good directions and a lot of motivation and this book has all of those things and then some! With 20 wickedly clever craft projects inside, Brown’s book reveals some spooktacular secrets this successful entrepreneur has gleaned from years of experience. He’ll tell you about the materials you’ll need with handy descriptions of them if you’re not familiar with things like monofilament (aka fishing line), other tools-of-the-trade, basic techniques and then with step-by-step instructions you’ll be ready to roll. I’m partial to the witchy party hat, but maybe you’ll prefer the Chenille Pumpkin, the Spider Puppet, the Spooky Forest Sticks and (yum) Orange Candy Apples or the Bride of Franky GlitterStein table decoration. There are patterns provided in the back of the book and you can use this book as a jumping point for other happening holiday crafts.
Beginning today Monday, October 8 and then again on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 we’re reviewing and/or briefly mentioning books that we’ve read recently then giving them away the following week! So **read both posts before entering. And guess what? If you LIKE us on Facebook and also send us your name and contact info in an email to Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com by midnight on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 you’ll be entered to win a prize package of all 11 books covered (worth a value of $153.77) just in time for Halloween!! Remember to write Halloween Book Giveaway in the subject line. **YOU MUST LIST ALL BOOKS COVERED IN THE 2 BLOGS as part of your entry eligibility so be sure to read the blog every day!! Click here now for more detailed rules. Good luck!
Take a midnight stroll through Amen Creature Corners and glimpse what’s carved on the animals’ headstones.
Ronna Mandel wants to get your youngsters hyped up for Halloween with her review ofLast Laughs: Animal Epitaphs($16.95, Charlesbridge, ages 7-10) by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen with ilustrations by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins.
I know what you’re thinking. Bizarre, morbid. Maybe. But I love this kind of offbeat picture book that is often ever so subtly humorous and other times outright in your face. Either way, the variety of the verses are clever and catchy and the gray-toned artwork is moody and evocative with the occasional smidgen of scarlet. Look closely, too, or you might miss some very funny touches Timmins has tossed in to keep you on your toes as you walk amongst the tombstones. Whether the creatures have been crushed, fallen ill or been struck while crossing the street (see page 6 Chicken Crosses Over), the myriad methods of demise are as hysterical as the epitaphs!
I have a feeling this kind of original and whacky poetry book might just tickle a few funny bones and get more than a few kids eager to try their hand at a few epitaphs this fall. With a chill in the autumn air, it’s really the right time of year to nurture all those budding Edgar Allan Poes.
Here’s a brief sample of a few of my faves:
Good-bye to a Rowdy Rooster
Too cocky by far, he head-butted a car.
Here lies a moth without a name, who lived by the fire and died by the flame.
If you are a twin, know people who are twins, or are expecting twins, pick up a copy of Take Two! A Celebration of Twins by J. Patrick Lewis and Jane Yolen, and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. This amusing book is a compilation of 44 poems on all things twins. The cleverly titled sections (Twins in the Waiting Womb, Twinfants, How to Be One and Famous Twins) contain verses on the aspects of life that are particularly significant to twins— establishing identity, individual personality, looks, names, and so on. Both authors have experience with twins; Lewis is a twin and Yolen has many twin family members. Their experience and insight show in the topics of the poems, as the reader gets a sense of what it’s like to be a twin. Here’s an excerpt from a poem titled “Two’s a Crowd”:
If you never have a single moment/You can call your own,/Always being dubbed “the twin”/And never left alone,/You’ll understand the plight I’m in,/Wishing I were one…
The poems range from sentimental to tongue in cheek. Each poem is written with language and in a style that children can understand and enjoy. Sophie Blackall’s illustrations are bright, colorful and a touch mischievous, much like the poems themselves. Catching the details in her pictures is an enjoyable way to complement the reading of the poems. My daughters (not twins) and I had a good time looking at the different expressions and actions that Sophie Blackwell cleverly portrays.
Throughout the book are scientific and fun facts about twins. For example, did you know that conjoined twins occur in about 1 out of 400,000 twin births? The record holder for the highest number of twin births belongs to Mrs. Feodor Vassilyev, who birthed an astonishing 16 sets of twins in the 1700s.
Take Two!: A Celebration of Twins makes for a fun poetry read on a subject that holds much fascination, especially to children. Of course, if you’re going to give the book as a gift to twins, you might want to pick up a second copy.
If you are in need of some good, ghoulish tales tonight and tomorrow, take a look at this roundup of recommended reads.
Sally’s Bones by MacKenzie Cadenhead ($6.99, Sourcebooks, ages 9-12) Substitute Creacher by Chris Gall ($16.99, Little, Brown, ages 4-8) Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters: A Lullaby by Jane Yolen with illustrations by Kelly Murphy Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas ($9.99, HarperCollins, ages 2-5) What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen by Nick Sharratt ($12.99, Candlewick Press, ages 3 and up) The Monstrous Book of Monsters by Libby Hamilton with illustrations by Jonny Duddle and Aleksei Bitskoff ($17,99, Templar Books, ages 5-8)