Spike, the Mixed-Up Monster

illus. by Melissa Sweet. 40p. CIP. S & S/Paula Wiseman Bks. Sept. 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-0601-8; ebook $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4424-5243-5. LC 2011017798.
PreS-Gr 1—Monsters with big claws, a pointy tail, and gnashing teeth are supposed to be scary. Spike, an axolotl salamander who has all of these attributes, doesn't frighten anyone, because he is no bigger than a lily pad. He is disappointed that his animal friends (el pato, el armadillo, el campañol) laugh at his attempts to terrify them. When a true monstruo arrives, the others run away in fear, leaving Spike to face the Gila monster on his own. He learns that sometimes looking friendly can be more important than looking scary. "More about Spike and His Amigos" provides useful facts and photos of the various Mexican creatures that appear in the story. A list of basic Spanish words and their English translations is also included. Sweet's colorful mixed-media illustrations showcase Spike's emotions in an eye-catching format that is sure to please young readers. The book is a great addition to most collections and would pair well with Mo Willems's Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (Hyperion, 2005) and The Monster at the End of This Book (Golden Bks., 1971) for an entertaining storytime about timid monsters.—Stephanie Rivera, Naperville Public Library, IL
Salamander Spike is an axolotl, which means "water monstrosity," but despite his attempts to prove otherwise, his friends think he's cute. When a Gila monster arrives at the lake, all the animals flee, and little Spike uses his "monster moves" to save the day. Vibrant colors accentuate the Mexican setting. Appended is "More About Spike and His Amigos" and a Spanish word glossary.

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