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Spike, the Mixed-Up Monster

by Susan Hood
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Published by . A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster, 2012
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4424-0601-8

Ages 3-7

“Spike was a monster. Or so he thought.” He has a “slithery tail, spiky crown, stumpy teeth.” Still, Spike is completely unsuccessful at scaring anyone. In fact, the other animals, el pato, el armadillo, and el campañol, think Spike, who’s “no bigger than a lily pad,” is adorable. But they take off in fear the day a real monster--a Gila Monster!--shows up at the lake. Spike stands his ground, shaking his spikes, baring his teeth, and swooshing his tail. The Gila Monster isn’t scared. In fact, he thinks Spike is smiling at him! Spike’s disappointment turns to pleasure when he discovers he can help the Gila Monster, who’s trying to find his way to his cousin’s fiesta. Spanish words are incorporated throughout a narrative distinguished by terrific pacing and word choice and featuring animals indigenous to Mexico. A two-page photo essay at story’s end provides more information about “Spike and His Amigos.” (Spike, it turns out, is an axolotl, a type of salamander.) Playful illustrations by Melissa Sweet are a wonderful backdrop for Susan Hood’s sprightly story. Highly Commended, 2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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