cover image Not Very Scary

Not Very Scary

Carol Brendler, illus. by Greg Pizzoli. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $12.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-35547-0

In a delightful Halloween romp that’s part counting book, part tongue twister, Brendler and Pizzoli introduce a green-skinned monster named Melly who is heading to her cousin Malberta’s house for a “surprise.” Along the way, Melly realizes an entourage is growing behind her, starting with a “coal-black cat with an itchy-twitchy tail,” which Melly dismisses as “not the least bit scary.” But then come “two skittish skeletons,” “four mournful ghosts,” and “seven frenzied fruit bats,” and suddenly Melly isn’t feeling so brave. Pizzoli crams the pages with comically ghoulish chaos, and his smiley creatures (Melly included) are more cute than bloodcurdling. Amid the mounting tension (which results in an epic party), readers also get a crash course in adverbs: “Not significantly scary!” says Melly when six mummies show up. “Not especially scary!” she shouts on the next page. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.)