Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Review: A Field Guide to Monsters

"World-famous" monsterologist Johan Olander takes a non-fiction approach to everyday monsters in A Field Guide to Monsters. Olander describes twenty eight monsters with their Latin Name, Habitat, Diet, Distinguishing Features, Life Cycle, and Safety Measures (you must take to avoid or defeat the monsters). Most terrifying category? Habitat. Most of Olander's monsters live right in your own habitat--the home.

Take, for example, the Leech-Eel (A.K.A. Toilet-Snake): "Leech-Eels live in plumbing fixtures and city sewers. They are often found in toilets." Olander's wonderfully detailed pencil-sketch illustrations add to the horror. The Leech-Eel looks like a cross between a Moray Eel, a Cookie Cutter shark, and a baby dragon without wings. What are the Leech-Eel's Distinguishing Features?
  • "Since the Leech-Eel often slithers up the drains of toilets, it attacks humans 'where the sun don't shine' when they are sitting on the toilet seat, thus causing painful and embarrassing injuries. It hunts at night and grows up to 2 feet in length. It can weigh up to 4 pounds."
Scared to go into the bathroom? I know I am. Some of Olander's monsters are scary (the Brute, who lives inside you), while others are insanely cute (the Domestic Dust-Devil).* You'll never look at your home and garden the same way again.

A Field Guide to Monsters has great curb appeal, especially for those kids who like Non Fiction. My youngest (7), who is currently on a Egypt kick and carries around a hieroglyphic dictionary, took one look at A Field Guide to Monsters and said, "Hey, that looks like a good book." After reading A Field Guide to Monsters, he pronounced it "excellent" and "funny." I concur. A Field Guide to Monsters is not for the younger child who requests an under-the-bed or closet check before bedtime, because Olander's subjects include Bedwolf (who "consumes children, pets, and small animals" and can be found under the bed) and other realistic monsters who will scare the susceptible child. A Field Guide to Monsters is best suited for children ages six to eleven who will appreciate Olander's humor and may set off on monster hunts of their own.
*Speaking of the Domestic Dust-Devil, let me just say that I wish s/he were my avatar. I'm in monster-love.
Don't miss the Monsterwatch blog on which Olander shares kids' monster drawings.