cover image OH YEAH!


Tom Birdseye, , illus. by Ethan Long. . Holiday, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1649-3

A "big, hairy, kid-eating monster" looms large in Birdseye's (Look Out, Jack! The Giant Is Back!) flawed cumulative ode to spooky backyard campouts. Pitched in a pup tent on a moonlit night, two boys try to scare—and dare—each other with ever-taller tales ("I could stay out here all night in the dark even if... there were spiders dangling over my head!" "I could stay out here all night in the dark even if there were spiders dangling over my head and... snakes slithering around my feet!"). The boys escalate their war of words with the taunt, "Oh yeah?", and their imaginations spill over onto the page, which teem with creepy-crawlies like 20-foot crocodiles and fire-breathing dragons. But Long's (The Day My Runny Nose Ran Away) cluttered, at times unfocused illustrations coupled with dense, hard-to-read typography may be off-putting to readers. Birdseye elongates each episode to the point where the climax (when a big, hairy kid-eating monster makes its inevitable appearance) loses steam. Young readers who, like the heroes, stick it out get rewarded with a message about bravery (when the boys rescue their stuffed animals: "In a flash we were out in the dark... 'We'll save you!' we shouted") and discover that the monster isn't always what it appears. Unfortunately, most kids will have figured that out already. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)