“How to Talk Monster” by Lynn Plourde, illustrated by Mike Lowery (G.P. Putnam's Sons, June 8), age 3-7, 32 pages, $15.99.
STORY: "Breezy" is a good description of this deceptively casual picture book.
In mostly wordless, comic-style cells filled with not confusing and not detailed, boldly outlined, colorful drawings and speech bubbles, we see a boy read a scary book about monsters just before bed. Upset, he tosses the book away and falls asleep.
Then a monster appears at his window. It tries to clamber inside, shouting babble: "Goop-zee-googy!" Mom and Dad respond to the boy's cries with a good-natured show of support. They put out a yard sign that says, "No Monsters Allowed."
But after everyone goes back to bed, the monster returns. It can't read English, so the sign doesn't work. In the window it comes, gibbering its monstrous gibberish, and confusion ensues.
The boy can’t speak Monster and the Monster can’t speak Boy; but they both speak Friend.
They play all night, raiding the refrigerator and trashing the kitchen, and have learned 11 words in one another’s languages by morning. Before Mom and Dad awaken, the monster departs.
Seeing the boy sleeping peacefully, holding his book about monsters, we decide it was all just a funny dream. But then Mom and Dad discover a big mess in the kitchen.
A glossary at the end defines the 11 Monster words, but during the first read-throughs, children will be challenged to figure out what the monster means.
Plourde is a pro who has written 40 children's books, and Lowery is another industry veteran, having illustrated and written bestsellers, including the "Mac B., Kid Spy" books and "The Gingerbread Man Is Loose" series.
Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.