The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme is a book that came out this spring and introduces children (and their uninformed parents) to some common monsters that one may find in film, literature and everyday life. "Ghostwritten" by Bobbi Katz and illustrated by Adam McCauley, this is a somewhat tame outing that can be appreciated by most kids over the age of five or six. There isn't anything terribly scary in it and in fact most of the humor seems to be for the parents who get to read this out loud (like the Zombie census form). Being a classic monster fan, I loved introducing Z to some of my favorites like King Kong, the Loch Ness Monster, Kraken, Yeti and Doctor Frankenstein.
I found the illustrations in this book to be more consistently awesome than the writing. I loved some of the poems but others focused too much on rhyme and not enough on rhythm or content. Z shouted out "this is a rhyming poem!" during a couple of them because the rhymes were so heavy-handed and obvious. The author also didn't seem to "get" what makes some of these monsters so cool -- like turning King Kong into a Ping Pong opponent, having Godzilla be a fan of milkshakes (?) and revealing that the Yeti eats spaghetti. These just seemed a bit too cheesy and I was hoping for something a little more in the spirit of these scary classic monsters.
Still, many of the entries were totally amusing. There is a witchy version of the song "My Favorite Things" that is really clever. You will also not want to miss the recipe for Grendel's "Danish Pastry" -- full of lots of tasty Danes. The best poem is probably the one titled "From the desk of Count Dracula" and is an invitation to visit him in Transylvania.
Just buy a one-way ticket. There's no need to splurge.
I'd really love to see you. It's an overwhelming urge.
You'll find that I'm a genial host,
but at times I think I'll burst,
unless I drink a bit of blood to satisfy my thirst.
A friendly nip, a little sip is harmless, you'll agree.
It's natural and organic, and my castle is smoke-free."
My favorite part of the book though was teaching Z the song "The Worms Crawl In". He's been singing it for days and it cracks me up.
Head over to Adam McCauley's website to see his award-winning endpaper design for the book -- faux stamps based on classic movie monsters. They're fantastic!
I'm having a great time sharing some scary reads with Z this year. He's finally old enough for some gentle frights and I love seeing some of these things through fresh eyes -- like the fact that he thinks the Kraken is female (he calls her "Mrs. Kraken"). And I certainly never thought I would have the chance to explain The Golem to a five year old but suddenly "a man made of mud" sounds much cooler. Z's eyes lit up at that idea!
Monster poems are really great ... don't put them off 'til it's too late!
K and Z
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