Creature Carnival. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.
Enjoyment Rating: !!!
My few dear readers, guess what time it is almost? Here's a hint: It's my FAVORITE holiday of fun and sweetness! That's right. And it's time to get in the mood for some frights.
Welcome to the creature carnival! One by one, this picturebook goes around the carnival and shares a poem about each of its creatures, making references to fairy tales, folk tales, some movies, classic literature, and myths. But children of all ages in attendance, beware! If you don't pass with care, you may find yourself in a snare!
Initially, this concept made me a little uncomfortable, since my mind immediately went to a "people with unusual appearances being taken advantage of place." But Creature Carnival manages to avoid this issue by using mythical animals or beasts from fairy tales and the displayed creatures.
The illustrations are highly stylized in a gothic fashion, but remain light and fun, which will prevent wee little readers from wee-weeing in their wee little pants. A big plus.
This is a good Halloween read that also promotes poetry. The artwork will feel familiar to reader who like A Series of Unfortunate Events or Zorgamazoo. So, Creature Carnival could lead into those longer books.
Since a lot of classic creatures are included in the carnival, a teacher could connect individual poems with lessons on mythical creatures like the Sphinx and Pegasus or to fairy tales. Since many of the names of the creatures aren't given until the ends of the poem, a teacher could try to turn a read aloud into a guessing game before reading the last line and showing the illustration.
Quotes of Note:
"Come along, children of all ages.
See baled beasts not found in cages.
Spend your parents' hard-earned wages.
It's Creature Carnival time."
"Not a horse, not a bird,
Wouldn't drop an egg on us.
Very sleek, very Greek,
In a word: Pegasus."
"You can't domesticate a dragon.
He'll never pull a plow or a wagon."