Griselda Snook’s Spectacular Books

Tiger Tales. Jul. 2024. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781664300460.
PreS-Gr 2–“Imagine finding the key to the best day ever” opens this cheerful story of Halloween fun. Reluctant reader Henry’s chance encounter with the whimsical, Dickensian-named Griselda Snook leads him to a marvelous bookstore where, alongside a bevy of monstrous guests including werewolves, mummies, and vampires, he discovers the magic of stories. Unfortunately, Timms himself does not succeed at tapping this vein of magic. While parents and teachers may be enticed by the surface trappings of Halloween, the book contains no particularly deep connection to the holiday. Borio’s cheery cartoon illustrations, featuring mostly grayscale environments populated with bright oranges, purples, greens, and browns, sprinkle in seasonal decorations aplenty: bats, spiders, skulls, jack-o’-lanterns. However, save for a brief spooky story time with the delightfully extravagant grande dame Magenta Screech, the real essence of the tradition—eeriness, mischief, shivers of excitement—is missing. The Halloween setting could lift right out of the book and leave the story with its central theme of the power of reading perfectly intact. Moreover, the plot is thin, with problems solved immediately or brushed aside, little in the way of narrative stakes, and a pat conclusion.
VERDICT While the message celebrating reading is commendable, the execution is unsatisfying.

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