Waga’s Big Scare

Samuel Hiti. Carolrhoda, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7613-5622-6
Hiti’s demon antihero is so petite that he could easily be vanquished with a flyswatter. Readers are assured, however, that little orange Waga is actually “the meanest... trickiest... most terrible monster that ever lived” and that he possesses “the biggest scare!” But Waga has a problem: his scare has gone missing, and without it, he’ll disappear at dawn. “No more tricks, no more scares, no more monster fun.” Could the scare be even closer than readers realize? Bringing to mind the oeuvre of Kevin O’Malley, Hiti, a comics artist making his children’s book debut, goes for broad humor—visual slapstick (Waga sliding through a house’s plumbing system), comedic sturm und drang (Waga’s curly ears vibrate in fright at the thought of nonexistence), and urgent asides that make readers complicit in the action (“Hurry Waga!” the story urges as Waga races to find his scare before dawn). But while each spread exhibits a loosey-goosey sense of fun and verve (Hiti’s hand-lettered typography has enough personality to get co-star billing), the ultimate takeaway is a series of clever, slightly silly drawings. There’s a little song, and a little dance, but no seltzer down anyone’s pants. Ages 5–9. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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