School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1—In the first appealing beginning reader, Gilman captures the antics of a devoted puppy and her owner as the child tries out for the lead in her school play. Mischief and mayhem ensue as Dixie attempts to help Emma learn her lines for the part of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. The colorful, realistic illustrations have strong context support and are well balanced on the page, providing a warmhearted perspective to the story line. Children with the acting bug will enjoy Emma's excitement up through performance day, delighting when Dixie gets a lead part, too. Never Kick a Ghost is a collection of stories filled with suspense, silliness, and chills. The whimsical, full-color illustrations enliven the texts. The stories' origins are explained in the back matter. This is a supplementary early reader, particularly for Halloween.—Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Here are a few stories that are appropriate for Halloween or a night when kids might be camping out and sitting around a campfire telling scary stories. In the first "South Sea Sue," a pirate's bride decides that they should play hide and seek after the wedding. She hides in a big chest and after the ship is sunk she heads for Davy Jones' locker and when found a hundred years lateronly her bones are left in their long white dress. The title story is short and relates how mean Sam kicked a ghost which mutates into something that scares him so badly that he dies in his bed. The third story is the longest and it is the tale of a big slobbery monster who follows a young boy home. He is so horrible looking that our young fellow is frightened and even more so when the big slobbery monster says look at what I can do with my big purple lips and green fingers. The ending will give a chuckle. Also included are some amusing tombstone epitaphs and a hand clapping rhyme. The closing page gives the provenance of the three stories. A Level 2 book in the "I Can Read" series. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
Sierra adapts a few spooky tales for the early-reader set with lackluster results.
Most books with this format form a cohesive whole, but the chapters here stand alone for the most part. Three chapters are reworkings of familiar tales. "The Skeleton Bride" is a tale of woe about Blackbeard the Pirate's wife, South Sea Sue. She meets a sad end as the ship sinks—until a diver 100 years later gets a scary surprise. "Never Kick a Ghost" is about mean man Sam Sniff's comeuppance after he repeatedly kicks suspicious white apparitions during a walk through the graveyard. "The Big Slobbery Monster" taunts a child, "Look what I can do / with my long green fingers / and my floppy purple lips." After the boy fails to escape the goofy monster, the creature shows what he can do as he strums his fingers over his mouth: "Blub-blub-a!" One chapter is a quick playground rhyme about witches, and another is a double page-spread with funny epitaphs that are difficult to decipher because the dark-gray text is displayed in varying typefaces on medium-gray headstones. Constantin's mass-market–looking illustrations fail to add any oomph to this disappointing title.
Pass. (Early reader. 4-8)