A witch with one eye holds a raven. Four children wearing scout uniforms, a sea beast, a vampire, and Mothman are behind her with friendly smiles. Text: "The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies. Hazy Dell Press. Kyle Sullivan and Derek Sullivan."

KidLit Book Review: The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies by Kyle Sullivan and Derek Sullivan


Synopsis

What happens when the world’s most courageous witch comes face-to-face with the one thing that gives her the heebie-jeebies?

The Cyclops Witch never backs down from adventure or the medley of monsters she meets along the way. But one spooky night, the only thing in the world that gives her the heebie-jeebies walks right up to her door — and it’s not what you’re expecting.

A timely tale of fear, prejudice, and misunderstanding, The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies is the first picture book collaboration from Kyle and Derek Sullivan, the author/illustrator team behind the beloved Hazy Dell Press Monster Series of children’s board books.


Details

  • Title: The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies
  • Author: Kyle Sullivan
  • Illustrator: Derek Sullivan
  • Cover Artist: Derek Sullivan
  • Publisher: Hazy Dell Press
  • ISBN: 1948931001
  • Publication Date: April 9, 2019
  • For Ages: 5-12
  • Category: Picture Book
  • Spooky-Scary or Spooky-Fun? 🎃 Fun.

I’d like to thank Hazy Dell Press for providing an advance copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.


Review

With witty, bouncing rhymes and endlessly delightful art, The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies is another must-read title from Hazy Dell Press. The first picture book from twin brothers Kyle and Derek Sullivan, it tells the story of an almost-fearless witch who must face the one thing in the world that scares her: children. As she learns to overcome her fears and prejudices, she discovers the joy of helping others and gains valuable new friendships, showing readers that kindness and open-mindedness are the paths to true bravery and happiness.

The story is as adorable as it is hilarious, and Kyle Sullivan’s verse is superb. The meter is musical and energetic, propelling the story through its many joyful twists. Sullivan provides just enough metrical variety to give the narrative an organic flow, complete with dramatic pauses to heighten tension and emphasize important character moments, without making it an awkward read. This is an ideal book for readalouds. I’m not sure who would have more fun with it, the adult (or older child) reading the story or the kids listening to it.

Four illustrations set against a light yellow background. The Cyclops Witch has a staring contest with an ice troll, runs away laughing after having stolen a leprechaun's gold, engages in a duel with Pumpkinhead, and rides a stork to evade flying monkeys.
Flying monkeys! Fork duel! Image: Four illustrations set against a light yellow background. The Cyclops Witch has a staring contest with an ice troll, runs away laughing after having stolen a leprechaun’s gold, engages in a duel with Pumpkinhead, and rides a stork to evade flying monkeys.

While this would indeed be a perfect readaloud, it’s also a great picture book for independent reading. Older kids will appreciate the message of fighting fear and prejudice, and they’ll delight in the pop culture references including Edgar Allan Poe, The Wizard of Oz, and David Bowie that may go over the heads of younger readers. (Please forgive me if that’s condescending. If your 5-year-old is cool enough to recognize Aladdin Sane, then kudos to whoever turned them into such a tiny little rock star.)

Derek Sullivan’s wicked sense of humor and sharp eye for detail are on full display in his illustrations. When the leprechaun defeats his stage fright and performs in front of a packed theatre, a silhouette of the audience shows us a sea of wee little leprechaun hats. And I still giggle every time I see Mothman dreamily stargazing with the Heebie-Jeebies like they’re all talking about what they want to be when they grow up.

Left side: Mothman and four children lie on green grass against a mossy log at night and watch the stars. Cyclops Witch watches them from a hiding place. Right side: A close-up of Cyclops Witch's face. Her brow is furrowed and the moon shines behind her.
What do you think Mothman wants to be when he grows up? Image: Left side: Mothman and four children lie on green grass against a mossy log at night and watch the stars. Cyclops Witch watches them from a hiding place. Right side: A close-up of Cyclops Witch’s face. Her brow is furrowed and the moon shines behind her.

Sullivan’s characteristically gentle color palette of woodsy greens and browns works particularly well for this story since so much of the narrative focuses on the Cyclops Witch’s battle with her fear, it’s important to have soothing colors that reinforce the idea of alleviating or eliminating anxiety.

The Cyclops Witch and the Heebie-Jeebies is a stellar addition to the lovably quirky Hazy Dell Press lineup. Its sweet, engaging illustrations perfectly complement the charming, hilarious verse to create an important and enjoyable story about facing your fears, overcoming prejudice, and showing kindness to others. I’ve come to expect greatness from Derek and Kyle Sullivan with every new title, and this book exceeded those expectations with humor and heart.


Rating

I’m seriously considering getting a Hazy Dell Press tattoo. I give this book 5 out of 5 coffins.

5 Coffins


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s