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Monster Mania

Lee Littlewood on

Monsters have expanded their appeal and come out to scare more often than just Halloween. These new books star monsters that are gentle, frightening and especially funny.

"I Want to Be in a Scary Story" by Sean Taylor; illustrated by Jean Jullien; Candlewick Press; 48 pages; $15.99.

The purple Little Monster agrees to be in a scary story but discovers that the haunted house setting is a little more than he'd anticipated. When he encounters a witch (whether real or imaginary), he screeches, "Oh Yikes and Crikes!" When the narrator asks if Little Monster would rather have a ghost jump out at him, he agrees but then yells, "Oh, Jeepers Creepers!" when it happens.

With the narrator's prompts in black text and Little Monster's in purple, readers can easily alternate voices and role-play this hilarious Halloween tale. They will breathe a sigh of relief when Little Monster finally gets to scare a little monkey and screech with laughter when a "ginormous" gorilla accompanies it. Eventually, Little Monster invites his new, not-so-scary pals to join him outside and yell "Boo" at the Narrator and readers, and the result is happy hilarity.

"The Monster's Daughter" by Paul Gamble; Feiwel & Friends; 378 pages; $16.99.

Book two in Paul Gamble's "The Ministry of SUITS" (Strange, Unusual and Impossible Things) sends curious Jack and tough Trudy off to Belfast to combat a troublesome mystery at the aquarium, with giant crabs breaking out and bath bombs destroying bathrooms. Absurdly, the middle-grade novel begins by pointing out that since no one has seen monsters under beds, they must be real. And Gamble goes on to explain how scientists believe the things not seen are the most real.

Penned with incredibly wit and cleverness, Gamble's books are made even funnier with relevant sidebar pages from the Ministry of SUITS Handbook (the chapter on seals says walruses are the result of seals and saber-toothed tigers mating because cats love the smell of fish). Another page from the handbook, titled Male Vanity, tells readers that the guards at Buckingham Palace are bald due to the stress of their jobs but their self-esteem can be raised by shouting, "Hey, dude, great hair!"

"The Monster's Daughter" is 100 percent pure fun and truly a raucous ride.

"Monsters Unleashed" by John Kloepfer; illustrated by Mark Oliver; HarperCollins; 189 pages; $16.99.

Giant fire-breathing monsters are attacking Freddie Liddle's town, and it's his fault after designing them on his school's 3-D printer. He had no idea they'd keep growing and has to recruit bullies, since they know how the monsters think.

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