cover image Velcome


Kevin O'Malley. Walker & Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8628-9

Warning: this book may be addictive to children, or anyone who has ever attended summer camp. In a hilarious send-up of the horror genre, O'Malley brushes off the corniest, silliest, creakiest old chestnuts (remember the one about the ""Vindow Viper?"") on the face of the planet and recycles them with pizzazz in picture-book format. Sporting a silk smoking jacket and seated in an armchair, an unctuous narrator (he's part Peter Lorre, part Orson Welles) maintains a running patter (""I saw you. You were scared, weren't you?"") while reading selections from such venerable tomes as ""Badly Messed Up Fairy Tales."" His sarcastic canine sidekick, meanwhile, holds up placards with sentiments like ""This guy's about 3 feet short of a yard!"" In addition to pseudo-scary campfire tales, O'Malley mixes it up with bad puns and the kinds of jokes that regularly make the rounds of elementary school classrooms, knitting it all together in a visual tour de force that includes full-page vistas of such truly frightening items as a plate of mixed vegetables and a rotten report card. Skewed perspectives, eyeball-to-eyeball close-ups, and lively typeface that lurches and swooshes its way across the pages are just a few of the elements that make this book such fun. Grab the nearest second-grader and dive in. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)