cover image Monster Brother

Monster Brother

Mary Jane Auch. Holiday House, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1095-8

Auch's (The Easter Egg Farm; Dumbstruck) somewhat offbeat tale blends two common picture-book themes: apprehension about a new sibling and fear of nighttime beasties. Monsters invade Rodney's bedroom every night, and nothing-neither strands of colored lights and lanterns nor the smell of dead catfish and old sneakers-can ward them off. But when Mommy announces that she is going to bring home a baby brother for Rodney, he considers that a monster might be scared away from a room with two kids in it. Later, at a family wedding, Rodney's relatives muse about the baby (Will it have Grandpa's Groucho-like nose or Aunt Velma's chicken legs? Will it grow like a weed like cousin Ernie?), and the suggestible child conjures up a bizarre image of his future brother. His fears are quashed when the newborn looks just like him-and even manages to scare off the monsters with his wails. Though the story is encouraging, Auch's stylized, hyperbolic art-featuring electric colors and characters with elongated faces and bulging eyes-may be offputting to some. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)