cover image Monster School

Monster School

Kate Coombs, illus. by Lee Gatlin. Chronicle, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4521-2938-9

Coombs (Water Sings Blue) conjures up a school full of spooks using snappy rhymes, a variety of verse forms, and plenty of imagination. Amusing doggerel about the school cafeteria food (“old shoe stew and ankle cake”) mixes with a dirge by a ghost who can’t scare anyone (“The witch is the worst./ She doesn’t even flinch. She just says,/ ‘Stay out of my way, Sophie,/ or I’ll turn you to lint”) and a moody meditation from a lonely soul (“People call me a ghost, like my edges are fluttering./ But I’m just quiet”). Comic artist Gatlin’s more ghoulish figures have blank black eyeholes, while more human-seeming kids sport colorful hair and regular duds (“They’ll think I’m ordinary... until the moon is full”). Entwining tendrils and wisps of smoke deepen the sulfurous atmosphere, and classic school elements subverted for laughs will make kids want to ditch their own school and go to this one. Ages 5–8. [em](Aug.) [/em]