SPIKE, THE MIXED-UP MONSTER
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet,
winner of a 2009 Caldecott Honor Medal
and the 2012 Robert F. Sibert Medal
Paula Wiseman Books /
Simon & Schuster, 2012
Spike was a monster. Or so he thought. He’d shake his spikes, swoosh his tail, and bare his teeth.
But el pato, el armadillo and el campañol weren’t afraid. All they could do was laugh at Spike. Until one day a real monster appeared....
This book, about the power of kindness, is based on a real endangered Mexican salamander called an axolotl. It includes facts about the animals and a glossary of Spanish words.
Also available as an ebook.
Named a 2013 Best Book of the Year
Read the story behind the story on Deborah Sloan's
delicious blog: The Picnic Basket.
Click here for our
SPIKE, THE MIXED-UP MONSTER
Curriculum Guide that meets
Common Core Standards.
Video: Want to know more about
the axolotl's plight? Click here for
an excellent (46-minute) documentary
showing Lake Xochimilco and scientists'
efforts to save an animal near extinction.
"...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.” ... Playful illustrations by Melissa Sweet are a wonderful backdrop for Susan Hood’s sprightly story." See full review here.
Highly Commended, 2013 Charlotte Zolotow Award
“Vibrant colors and creatures fill the double-spread swamp scenes, which strongly complement the text. Touches of whimsy in the landscape, both unusual and cheery, mimic Spike’s personality. Readers of the endnotes might be surprised to see a photo of a real axolotl, smiling very much like the tiny hero. Hood and Sweet succeed admirably in creating a new twist on an identity story while cleverly introducing Spanish words and exotic creatures. (endnote, glossary)” For the full review, click here.
"Sometimes kindness trumps scariness, when it comes to being an effective monster. That's the theme of Susan Hood's ... slyly engaging picture book. ... A charmer." Full review here.
Hood’s simple and playful text, and select use of Spanish words, is enhanced by Caldecott Honor Book and Sibert Medal winner Sweet’s (A River of Words, 2008; Balloons over Broadway, 2011) cheerful landscapes, lively palette, and fun versions of some pretty unusual animals. Together, author and illustrator establish a tale of unlikely friendship, while inviting young readers to consider what it means to have courage. The book concludes with detailed endnotes introducing the Mexican marsh creatures inspiring the plot (“More about Spike and His Amigos”) and a Spanish–English glossary for English-dominant readers. Spike will delight children with his tiny but mighty ways.
"Author Susan Hood’s concise text provides the best in a children’s picture book–challenging vocabulary, fun repetitive phrases, catchy images to act out, a sprinkling of beginner Spanish words and a delightful tale of friendship versus fear that little ones can relate to. SPIKE, THE MIXED-UP MONSTER is a must-read, playful, delightfully illustrated tale that charms readers and expands their language learning." For the full review, click here.
Named one of "The Best Picture Books of Summer 2012"
"Kids will adore the surprises in this book about a monster (an axolotl) named Spike who is no bigger than a lily pad."
"For young children, we want picture books with writing that sings, outstanding art that expands on the words, and stories or information that are developmentally appropriate. [Here] are this year’s picks from your librarian, for the family with the new baby, the grandchildren who live across the country, the godchildren who have arrived for the weekend and to amaze your nieces and nephews with your superior intuitive abilities, chosen from the thousands of children’s books published this year.
The book is a great addition to most collections and would pair well with Mo Willems's Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (Hyperion, 2005) and The Monster at the End of This Book (Golden Bks., 1971) for an entertaining storytime about timid monsters.