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.
Exciting, action-packed writing from "The Zombie Chasers" series writer John Kloepfer gets cozily inside the mind of a boy who is frantically conflicted about making friends with bullies and saving his town. Freddie has the makings of a middle school hero and gives it his all with the help of friends.
Fans will be happy that Kloepfer continues this exciting story for 8- to-12-year olds in the soon-to-be-released follow-up, "Monsters Released: Bugging Out."
"I Love You More than the Smell of Swamp Gas" by Kevan Atteberry; HarperCollins; 32 pages; $17.99.
Papa and little Monster "love nothing more than a swamp." But the little pink green-haired monster feels a tad jealous and asks, "Do you love me as much as the skink that you chase or the smell of the swamp or the beasts in this place?" Papa reassures him on one hilarious page spread that he loves his little monster as much as "bloodsucking ducks," "moonstruck raccoons" and even "two two-headed bears."
Bold, neon-colored nighttime scenes are lit up by friendly moonshine, the perfect stage for Kevan Atteberry's song-like, gentle, humorous rhyming picture book.
More sure-to-be-popular monster tales include "Even Monsters Need to Sleep" by Lisa Wheeler (HarperCollins), with a bevy of friendly, otherworldly monsters and their bedtime routines; "Monster Trucks" by Joy Keller (Henry Holt), a gentle yet funny rhyming look at whimsical monsters paving roads, hauling muck and eventually heading home to their monster beds; "The Want Monsters and How They Stopped Ruling My World" by Chelo Manchego (Shambhala Publications), the thoughtful tale of how a boy learns to tame his "want monster" named Oskar without hurting his feelings.
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.