cover image A Not Scary Story About Big Scary Things

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.)