cover image Maximillian Villainous

Maximillian Villainous

Margaret Chiu Greanias, illus. by Lesley Breen Withrow. Running Press, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-76246-297-1

Greanias makes her debut with crackling dialogue in this story about being different. As his name suggests, monster Maximillian Villainous comes from a family famous for their villainy. But to the family’s chagrin, Max is not like the others. While his relations enjoy playing tricks on Santa Claus, Mother Nature, and the like, Maximillian counters their mischief with helpfulness and kindness, even writing the Tooth Fairy an apology note after one grievous incident. When Max brings home the most unsuitable of sidekicks—a bunny—his mother is firm: he can only keep the animal if the pair can succeed at a devious task. Max sincerely attempts to meet these demands (“Should be easy to make a baby cry,” he thinks while plotting against Cupid), but his sensitive nature wins out every time. Childlike mixed-media illustrations by Withrow (Bunny Bus) playfully depict monster life (eyeballs for dinner, anyone?), while Max’s conflicting emotions play expressively across his features. A clever, surprising ending emphasizes that different isn’t always so different after all. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Rick Richter, Aevitas Creative Management. Illustrator’s agent: Christina Tugeau, Catugeau Agency. (Aug.)