Ten creepy monsters met 'neath a gnarled pine.
One blew away,
And then there were nine.
And so the countdown begins . . . A mummy, a witch, a ghost, a werewolf, a vampire, and others all gather, but one by one their crowd diminishes. At last there is only one creepy monster left. But what kind of monster is it?
Squeals of laughter are sure to accompany the reading of this book from bestselling illustrator Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis, as 10 creepy monsters set out for fun.
Armstrong-Ellis stages a light Halloween countdown starring 10 monsters who leave the story one at a time: “Ten creepy monsters met ’neath a gnarled pine./ One blew away, and then there were nine.” The motley group includes a vampire resembling Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, a zombie that loses its foot, and an aquatic monster that falls in love with a human in a rowboat. Generously detailed acrylics provide a touch of nefarious charm, while a tender surprise ending should gratify trick-or-treaters. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—When ten creepy monsters meet beneath a pine tree, they get into all sorts of trouble that helps readers count backward from ten to one. "Nine creepy monsters trudged with lurching gait./One lost his foot,/and then there were eight." Though dark and full of suspicious characters, the single pages and spreads rendered in rich acrylics are full of comedy, which keeps the book entertaining rather than scary. After the second to last monster-a vampire-rushes off in the sunrise, readers are left with one monster hurrying home. An abandoned mask, strewn candy, and a sleeping boy tell the rest of the story. Fun for Halloween or for counting anytime.—Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA
This countdown romp begins with a front-cover portrait of 10 smiling and grimacing monsters before they set forth on their perilous adventure. "Ten creepy monsters met 'neath a gnarled pine. / One [a ghost] blew away, and then there were nine." So continues the predictable rhyme, with the various creatures meeting mostly unfortunate ends: The zombie loses his foot, the mummy snags his wrappings, and the vampire glances at the sunrise. Some do not perish but are only distracted; the werewolf cannot resist howling at a shocked full moon, and the sea monster, in one of the funnier (though incongruous) spreads, "found his love," who is a startled woman in a bathing suit and cat's-eye glasses near the shore. As the numbers dwindle, only a squat, goblin-green monster remains, until this "one creepy monster rushed home at a run." The page turn reveals a green mask hanging from a bedpost, Halloween candy spilling out from a sack underneath the bed and a contented boy, who "pulled up his blanket, and then there were none." Armstrong-Ellis injects just the right amount of humor into her portrayals of the ghoulish bunch, keeping the tone appropriately light, despite the body count. Best for younger readers who prefer thrills and chills with an occasional giggle. (Picture book. 3-5)
Carey Armstrong-Ellis has written and illustrated a number of books for Abrams, including Miss Tutu's Star and The 12 Days of Kindergarten series. Visit her online at slugworks.com. She lives with her family in Cape Neddick, Maine.