- After Squidnight by Jonathan Fenske
Fenske, Jonathan After Squidnight; written and illus. by Jonathan Fenske. Penguin Workshop, 2020 [32p] Trade ed. ISBN 9781524793081 $12.99 E-book ed. ISBN 9781524793098 $7.99 Reviewed from galleys R 5-8 yrs
In this rhyming comic horror story, midnight is the time for squids to undulate their way out of the ocean to find a surface for their ink drawings ("In water, squid art/does not stay"). On they come to your house, your hallway, your kitchen and tub, and yup, your bedroom ("The squids squeeze/underneath your door"). They're gone at dawn, leaving an almighty mess that gets the protagonist in trouble ("You try your best/to blame the squids./But who believes/the tales of kids?"), but one little squid scribble is preserved to remember the moment. This has an appealing balance of creeps and giggles, and while the verse scansion trips over its tentacles occasionally, the premise of squids desperately seeking dry surfaces on which to use their ink is impressively original. The restrained palette (in watercolor, of course) of black and teal enhances the horror-film flavor, as does the title lettering in skewed, trickly capitals; for all the tentacled menace, though, the cephalopods' actual drawings are amusingly adolescent in their playful goofiness. This will be the perfect slightly slimy thrill for fans of Aaron Reynolds' Creepy Carrots (BCCB 10/12) and Creepy Pair of Underwear (BCCB 7/17).