cover image School in Murky Wood

School in Murky Wood

Chronicle Books, Malcolm Bird. Chronicle Books, $10.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0544-5

This imaginative story of a classroom full of elementary-age monsters contains just the right amount of ghoulish humor--enough to mildly gross out its audience, but not enough to frighten. After human students have gone to bed and nighttime descends on the school in Murky Wood, seven young monsters and their teacher arrive. Class, in session until dawn, allows students ample time to practice daydreaming and making messes; after a cafeteria meal of `` goop soup, '' howling practice takes place. Perhaps most winning of all is a `` grumpy dancing '' lesson by four-armed, turtle-esque teacher Miss Moist, who assumes a surly facial expression, pantomimes a temper-tantrum, and provides music--on sax, piano and drum simultaneously. Bird ( The Magic Dart ) envisions an ugly but good-natured array of students from a two-mouthed boy to a pigtailed troll to a tiny, hard-to-spot yellow creature who lurks in nearly every spread. While this book acknowledges the entertainment potential of bad manners, it also indicates that there's a right and a wrong time for `` monstrous '' behavior, and promotes benign, freaky fun. Ages 3-8. (Oct.)