Friday, October 31, 2008

Book Review: Algernon Graeves is Scary Enough by Peter Bollinger

Book: Algernon Graeves Is Scary Enough
Author: Peter Bollinger
Illustrator: Peter Bollinger
Published: 2005

Algernon Graeves is having a heck of a time finding a Halloween costume. Nothing is scary enough: not mummies, not vampires, not ghosts, nothing! Will he find something in time to go trick-or-treating?

I was one of those kids like Algernon--I had amazing ideas for costumes in my head, but they always came out . . . kinda silly-looking. (We won't discuss what I wore to the seventh-grade Halloween dance. We just . . . won't.) I think every kid has had that experience at some point in their lives, which is why this book is so much fun.

One of the things I loved about the art (and one of the things that made this work) was the elaborate spreads that represent Algernon's ideas. They leer out of the page at you, red eyes glowing, claws at the ready. But they are transparent, so you still see Algernon's attic through them. (In a fun detail, Bollinger fuses the lines and tones of the imaginary monsters with the background, so that the curve of a werewolf's claw continues into a knot on a support beam, or the edges of the ghost become cobwebs.) On the next spread, representing Algernon's best attempt at his newest idea, everything is opaque and down-to-earth and very reassuring to non-monster fans.

I read it to a pack of kids who all had differing opinions on which of Algernon's ideas was the scariest in theory, but were united in recognizing the silliness of the practical application when you turned the page.

A fun one for Halloween, but also fun for a monster storytime. Try it out on your preschooler or early elementary kid.

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