Linda Ashman, , illus. by David Small. . S&S, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-82640-5

In vivid rhyme, Ashman (Rub-a-Dub Sub ) leads readers on a round-the-world tour of mythical beasts and folkloric frights. A verse introduces each, and a faux-factoid box explains its origins and other matters of interest. There are the Hotots, whose "shoes ooze with swamp-puddle goos" (more soberly defined in the faux-factoid as "evil spirits found in Armenian swamps and rivers"); Ravana, a demon from India with 10 heads and 20 arms; and the North American snowy Sasquatch, aka Bigfoot. Ashman sets up the book as a helpful travel guide ("Guaranteed—some day, some place—/ You'll meet a monster face-to-face./ Don't destroy a great vacation—/ Arm yourself with information!") and offers advice on how to handle the "monster" ("Be careful near Loch Ness./ Don't wander off, oblivious./ Nessie likes the water,/ But she just might be amphibious"). Caldecott medalist Small's (So You Want to Be President? ) sly pen-and-inks present three travelers—a girl in safari clothes and pith helmet, her younger brother and an expressive basset hound. The trio begins their voyage in a hot-air balloon piloted by a snobbish sort in early-aviator get-up. Small finds plentiful occasions to poke fun. His Domovik, for example, an irritable Russian house spirit, uncannily resembles Stalin; he draws the Sirens as three gruesome torch singers with a toga-clad backup band. For kids with active imaginations, this clever book takes the bite out of things that go bump in the night. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)