cover image Why Did the Monster Cross the Road?

Why Did the Monster Cross the Road?

R.L. Stine, illus. by Marc Brown. Orchard, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-3388-1525-2

In the setup to this jokey picture book, two monsters sit on a tree branch overhanging water. The smaller monster, Hunny, a fluffy horned creature with a red handbag, is feeling “sad and grumpy.” So the bigger monster, Funny, who sports gator-like eyes and an orange vest, launches into a barrage of jokes, each one enacted in a vignette (“Why did the monster take out one hundred books from the library? Because he wanted to eat them at home!”). It isn’t until the self-appointed comedian accidentally falls off the branch and into the drink—a scene rendered in splattery, bubbly blues—that Hunny’s gloom disappears. “NOW, THAT’S FUNNY!” the little monster declares, and Funny good-heartedly agrees: mission accomplished. The jokes, as channeled through Stine (the Goosebumps series), are more chestnuts than rib-ticklers, but they’re almost beside the point. Brown (the Arthur series) turns the story into a visual feast of dimensional, collage-like shapes and textures (plaids, striations, mottling, streaks), and there’s something deeply relatable about Funny’s relentless snaggletooth delivery and insistence that the best is yet to come (“Hold on to your belly. You’ll be laughing so hard”). After all, who hasn’t thought at one time or another that they’re a monster comic talent? Ages 4–8. (July)