Spike, the Mixed-up Monster by Susan Hood

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Spike, the Mixed-up Monster by Susan Hood and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (Simon & Schuster, 2012) tells about a monster who wants to be scary. The problem is that Spike is an axolotl, a tiny Mexican salamander that really is not very scary. None of the other pond friends are afraid of him. When a monster arrives (a Gila poisonous lizard), Spike is able to stop him from scaring the others, but not in the way he intended!

A cute story about our own unique talents, friendship, and Mexican animal relationships, Spike, the Mixed-up Monster is also a bilingual book, with a smattering of Spanish vocabulary, interspersed throughout the story. Although I normally like this, someone about it in this book didn’t jive for me. Maybe I felt that way because “Spike” isn’t a Spanish name from the beginning, so the Spanish seemed out of place. I wasn’t expecting it. Unexpected is okay, though, because the book is a nice one overall.

The illustrations are watercolors and gouache, capturing the adorable Spike in just the right way. A bonus is the addition of facts about axolotl, Gila monsters, and Spike’s other friends, as well as a basic glossary of Spanish words. Kid thoughts: It was a little mixed up with the Spanish and the English! I liked the story.

In our neighborhood, it is definitely Halloween season: pumpkins, Halloween parties, bags of leaves. In honor of the season, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the “monster” books on the Cybils 2012 nomination list. 

Which picture book is your favorite “monster” book for kids?

Reviewed on October 25, 2012

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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