School Library Journal (starred review)

Gr 2-5–This hilarious collection of illustrated poems describes the lives of well-known monsters. There’s Frankenstein, who tries to borrow food from townsfolk, but is instead pelted with garbage: “It’s true, at first/he thought the worst:/His neighbors were so rude!/But then he found/that on the ground/they’d made a mound of food.” The accompanying illustration shows the pickle-green brute happily eyeing a towering sandwich made from discarded edibles. In several comical appearances, the Phantom of the Opera bemoans the fact that he can no longer compose arias because he can’t get catchy tunes out of his head (“It’s a small world after all./Angry cursing fills the hall./Now he’s crawling up the wall./It’s a small, small world”). He eventually considers an alternate career. The Creature from the Black Lagoon ignores his mother’s advice, swims too soon after eating, and sinks; Count Dracula walks around with spinach in his teeth because no one dares tell him about it. Told with smooth, unstrained rhymes, each selection captures its subject’s voice. Rex uses an impressive variety of techniques and media in the artwork while paying homage to famed illustrators. From shiny black-and-white graphics in “Zombie Zombie,” to a Richard Scarry-esque interpretation of the Yeti, to pen-and-ink sketches of Dr. Jekyll, each creature claims its own style. The book is fresh, creative, and funny, with just enough gory detail to cause a few gasps. Kids will eat it up.–Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI

Kirkus (starred review)

Readers will relish every gross and hilarious entry in this monstrous menu of misadventures, from the towering appetizer concocted by Frankenstein—a green-skinned Fred Gwynne in Rex’s detail-rich, superbly over-the-top illustrations—to the Japanese-inflected closer, “Godzilla Pooped on my Honda.” Interlaced with repeated appearances from an increasingly frantic Phantom of the Opera (who can’t get a succession of pop tunes out of his head), the verses and accompanying art go from suggesting unfortunate results when “The Invisible Man Gets AHaircut,” to making lurid allusions to the contents of “The Lunchsack of Notre Dame.” They range from why “The Yeti Doesn’t Appreciate Being Called Bigfoot,” to tracking the Mummy’s reluctance to bed down: “Here’s his new excuse: / He wants cookies with his juice. / But he won’t get far— / that’s his stomach in that jar.” Making Judy Sierra’s Monster Goose (2001), illustrated by Jack E. Davis, look like an exercise in restraint, here’s a read-aloud candidate sure to elicit loud screams—but not of fright. (Poetry. 6-10)

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Lovers of silly pop-culture allusions will get a kick out of these monster spoofs. The title poem sets the parodic tone. Frankenstein's monster, pursued by torch-bearing villagers, feels sad to be despised: "They threw tomatoes,/ pigs, potatoes,/ loaves of moldy bread./ And then a thought struck Frankenstein/ as pickles struck his head." Instead of pitying himself, he thanks the mob and makes a Dagwood sandwich. In subsequent pages, Rex (Tree Ring Circus)-in a mocking spirit akin to Sendak et al.'s Mommy?-parodies wolfmen and vampires. A recurring joke features an aggravated Phantom of the Opera who cannot compose music except to the tunes of "Pop Goes the Weasel" and other standards ("It's a small world after all./ Angry cursing fills the hall./ Now he's crawling up the wall./ It's a small, small world"); a goofy Dracula tale follows the bouncy meter of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Rex demonstrates a dizzying yet fitting variety of artistic styles, layouts and lettering. For instance, he styles a Jekyll and Hyde tale as a 19th-century illustrated newspaper, a photo collage imitates a Japanese monster flick, and a perfectly realized Richard Scarry bunny gazes sweetly at a yeti in a sendup of a Little Golden Book ("The Yeti Doesn't Appreciate Being Called Bigfoot"). Rex gives readers the pleasure of discovering punch lines on their own, and his droll, ultra-detailed paintings show he takes comedy seriously. Ages 5-10. (Sept.)

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