cover image Yikes!


Alison Lester, Allison Lester. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-71252-8

Seven stories offer the chance to become one of 56 colorful characters, from Blood and Guts McCoy ``in a raging storm at sea'' to Gory Lips, the fanged housemaid in a monster-infested Transylvanian castle. Written in rollicking verse, each story begins by introducing its cast of eight with the question ``Who would you be?'' Only then does Lester (Imagine; My Farm) sketch out the zany course of action, leaving each tale with an open puzzle. The grand finale, titled ``And here's what happened...'' brings the breathless reader up to speed on all the stories and the mysteries therein. Unfortunately, with the many story lines and the dozens of characters, it's hard to sort out who's who and what's what, and readers may be too busy flipping back and forth between the pages to enjoy the antics. All the gun- and knife-toting (not to mention the wicked-heart-poking and parabolic-phaser-firing) may also raise a red flag in certain quarters. Still, Lester's spirited illustrations are in stride with the fast-paced, perilous adventures, and she does a fine job of filling the pages with humorous details. An ambitious and imaginative book, but one that takes hard work to digest in full. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)