Monsters Growling in the Background

Reycraft. Oct. 2022. 32p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781478870418.
Gr 3 Up–A set of 13 poems where the spooky illustrations are the focus. A mix of famous older works, such as Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven,” and newer Halloween poems are clearly compiled to serve the images that Ontiveros has created—and those images are very well done. Bright neon characters in high contrast to gray and black backgrounds, trippy repeating pattern endpapers, and highly stylized representations of a child’s nightmares grace the pages around these poems. This very short book could be a fun read-aloud for parents or caregivers with younger kids, although they might want to pre-read the book and judge children’s scare-thresholds. Some of the poems have a high reading level despite having children as the main characters, so older kids may enjoy this collection as well. The art is the main selling point of this book, as it may be difficult to justify the purchase of a book of only 13 poems, many of which are older or in the public domain.
VERDICT A fun read-aloud for readers who love spooky art.

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