The Too-Scary Story
Papa has offered to read his children a bedtime story, and he’s got his work cut out for him. Grace, the older child, wants something scary (she has a pretend magic wand as the last line of defense); little Walter, not so much. As the narration unfolds and the children imagine themselves in the tale, Papa keeps recalibrating to assuage both his offspring. The “spookiest, creepiest dark” that Grace savors is suddenly illuminated by friendly fireflies for Walter’s sake; potentially scary animals turn out to be cuddly critters bedding down for the night. Murguia’s (Princess! Fairy! Ballerina!
) mixed-media pictures conjure up plenty of atmosphere, with moody browns, grays, and soft blacks punctuated by glowing eyes and eerie shafts of light. But while the premise is excellent and the story starts strong, Murguia doesn’t seem to know how to resolve the narrative tug-of-war. The conclusion, in which the siblings team up to vanquish the shadowy threat of a story that seems stuck in scary mode, feels rushed and doesn’t live up to the comedy of the preceding pages. Ages 3–5. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (June)