A Not Scary Story About Big Scary Things

C.K. Williams, illus. by Gabi Swiatkowska, Harcourt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-15-205466-3
A boy lives near a "regular, ordinary, standard sort of forest," except that along with the usual perils of cliffs, bears, snakes, and wolves, there's also an actual, awful monster with a penchant for scaring children. "That's what people said, anyway," writes Williams (How the Nobble Was Finally Found). But the boy isn't buying it—and his conviction proves to be a powerful defense when he finds himself standing eye to eye with the creature, who seems to live up to its horrible hype. "I'm sorry," the boy says politely, "but I can't believe in something that's not real." Nonplussed by this precocious rationality, the monster slowly shrinks, until it becomes nothing more than a fluffy kitty, suitable for adopting. It's hard to think of two artists better suited to one another. Sharing a surreal sense of logic and elegance, Williams and Swiatkowska convey a mood that's both dreamy and reassuringly matter-of-fact. Swiatkowska (The Earth Shook: A Persian Tale) is in particularly fine form, with wry drawings that range from florid to schematic, and clever collages that underscore the silliness of conventional wisdom. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/16/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
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