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Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 1–Leonardo is a terrible monster–terrible as in he can't scare anybody. He's not big, doesn't have hundreds of teeth, and isn't even weird. So one day he comes up with an idea: He would find the most scaredy-cat kid in the whole world…and scare the tuna salad out of him! After much research, he chooses Sam, sneaks up on him, and [gives] it all he [has]. When the boy cries, Leonardo is convinced that he is a success. But Sam proceeds to recite a litany of wrongs that actually brought on his tears: My mean big brother stole my action figure right out of my hands…, and on and on. Leonardo makes a decision that is sure to surprise and delight readers. Willems's familiar cartoon drawings work hand in glove with the brief text to tell this perfectly paced story. It is printed on pastel grounds in large, fancy letters that change color for emphasis. Sam's list of woes marches across a spread. Leonardo, a small greenish-beige creature with tiny horns; blue eyes; and pink nose, hands, and feet, first appears in a lower right-hand corner looking dejected, but when he makes his momentous decision, his circular head fills two pages. His antics to produce a scare will have youngsters laughing, while the asterisk next to the number of monster Tony's teeth (*note: not all teeth shown) will have grown-ups chuckling, too. A surefire hit.–Marianne Saccardi, Norwalk Community College, CT
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PreS-K. "Your Pal, Mo Willems," as the cover reads, offers a simple message-driven story, elevated by a smart, striking design. Leonardo is supposed to be a terrible monster, but he's just terrible at his monsterly craft. Small, with big blue eyes, a blue tongue, and a furry body, Leonardo looks like a tiny, unassuming brother of a Wild Thing. He gets an idea: find the most "scaredy-cat kid" in the world and "scare the tuna salad" out of him. He finds Sam, who seems an easy mark and bursts into tears. But on a clever double-page spread, Willems lists the real reasons Sam is crying, starting with "My mean big brother stole the action figure out of my hands" and ending with a bird's pooping on Sam's head. After thinking it over, Leonardo decides to move from terrible monster to wonderful friend. This oversize book uses thick paper in the colors of a desert sunset. Sam and Leonardo take up very little room on the large pages; the old-fashioned lettering dominates the expanse of color. A winner for story hours, with plenty of discussion possibilities. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved