The Monster Squad

S. & S./Aladdin. (Junior Monster Scouts: Bk. 1). Sept. 2019. 112p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781534436770; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9781534436763.
Gr 1-2–Vampyra, Wolfy, and Franky Stein, the famous monsters’ offspring, are working together to earn their Junior Monster Scout badges for their specialized skills, such as howling and flying, and more commonplace qualities like teamwork. The do-good youngsters are going even further by helping Peter, the piper, find his lost kitten. Meanwhile, wicked Baron Von Grump is even crankier than usual and, together with a bunch of rats and his raven Edgar (a homage to Poe that only adults are likely to appreciate), he hatches a cruel plot to force the villagers to flee. When the wee monsters and young Peter learn of the villagers’ plight, they draw on all they have learned in scout training to outwit the Grump and save the village. The premise of the young monsters as scouts comes off as run-of-the-mill, while Baron Von Grump’s vague motivation (he wants the village quiet so he can play his violin) does not track. At key plot moments, the author directly addresses readers (“Close your eyes…. Now look for a kitten…”), which may draw in some children. Sketch illustrations do not add much to the story, and Baron Von Grump strongly resembles Gargamel from The Smurfs.
VERDICT Purchase if there is a strong demand for early chapter books or if books for young scouts are needed.

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