Wednesday, July 15, 2015

★ THE FUN BOOK OF SCARY STUFF [STARRED REVIEW from KIRKUS]

With the help of his two dogs, a boy attempts to tackle his fears—both imagined and real. Opening the book is a list of four scary things: monsters, ghosts, witches, and trolls. At first the boy doesn't want to reveal them to his dogs, a pug and a bull terrier. "Can't tell you. It's too much terror." But the bull terrier persists, and the two discuss each creature's scariness quotient. This hilarious back-and-forth conversation occurs in dialogue bubbles as the quizzical pug looks on. The boy then turns to scary "stuff that definitely exists," such as his nasty cousin, the bossy crossing guard, big growling dogs, and swimming pools that might have sharks in them. The terrier breezily brushes away each fear until the boy mentions the dark. "Okay," says the terrier. "Now that's a little scary." As the boy says, "Nameless evil could be lurking" there. The page turn reveals the boy and both dogs on a pitch-black spread with only eyeballs and dialogue to convey the heightened fear they are experiencing. The boy's solution is obvious but feels absolutely perfect given the scenario. Readers and their grown-ups will howl with laughter at the dry humor and the detailed illustrations that capture every eye roll and skeptical sideways glance. Jenkins and Yum perfectly portray the anxiety and false bravado of this delightful cast of characters who ultimately find fun in the scary stuff. (Picture book. 4-8)

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