Maximillian Villainous is a monster who doesn’t have the heart to be a villain. His famous family pulls pranks on the likes of Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, and Max spends his time undoing them. So when he brings home a bunny to be his sidekick, Max’s disapproving mother hatches a plan. She challenges Max and the bunny to become a devious duo; otherwise . . . the bunny hops. If they want to stay together, Max and the bunny have no choice but to go against their nature. They blunder into villainy with comical effect until Max discovers that embracing his good heart may just be the key to pulling off the most devious deed of all and winning his family’s acceptance.
Greanias makes her debut with crackling dialogue in this story about being different. As his name suggests, monster Maximillian Villainous comes from a family famous for their villainy. But to the family’s chagrin, Max is not like the others. While his relations enjoy playing tricks on Santa Claus, Mother Nature, and the like, Maximillian counters their mischief with helpfulness and kindness, even writing the Tooth Fairy an apology note after one grievous incident. When Max brings home the most unsuitable of sidekicks—a bunny—his mother is firm: he can only keep the animal if the pair can succeed at a devious task. Max sincerely attempts to meet these demands (“Should be easy to make a baby cry,” he thinks while plotting against Cupid), but his sensitive nature wins out every time. Childlike mixed-media illustrations by Withrow (Bunny Bus) playfully depict monster life (eyeballs for dinner, anyone?), while Max’s conflicting emotions play expressively across his features. A clever, surprising ending emphasizes that different isn’t always so different after all. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Rick Richter, Aevitas Creative Management. Illustrator’s agent: Christina Tugeau, Catugeau Agency. (Aug.)