Monster School by Kate Coombs, illustrated by Lee Gatlin

Monster School
written by Kate Coombsillustrated byLee Gatlin
Review Copy from Chronicle Books
Well before the title page, Coombs's rhyming verse and Gatlin's superb creepy-cartoony illustrations invite you Monster School, a place filled with humor and humerus bones. While titles to poems like "Monster Mash," "Cafeteria Food," "Homework," and "Class Pet"may sound familiar, Coombs brings a fresh eye and way with words to this excellent collection of poems. My favorite of the bunch, "Monster Mash," begins, "Me? I'm multicultural. I come from here and there. / That's why I have a bunch of claws and floating purple hair." This twist on diversity goes beyond borders (and creatures) ending with this lovely sentiment, "I'm really multicultural. / Are you multicultural too? / I see a lot of things now that / I take a look at you."
 Coombs brings other creative updates to the genre of both school and Halloween poems. In "Song of the Freckles," a witch keeps her magic in the twelve freckles on her face. "Fernanda Kabul" is a poem voiced by students whispering about the perfect little witch who smiles as she curses her classmates for making fun of her. "Homework," begins, "Homework, stupid homework: / I'm supposed to catch a newt / and write a three-page essay / on the Dragon Institute." The narrator just wants to watch TV, nap and play Vampire World on his gaming console (marvelously illustrated in a creepy-retro style by Gatlin) and isn't too worried about his teacher's threat to kill him because he's already dead! "Science Fair Sonnet" is narrated by the grandson of Dr. Frankenstein who has his very own Igor and "Computer Wizard" wonderfully mashes up technology and magic.

Monster School is a spectacularly spooky and entertaining read that kid's will love any time of the year!

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