The ABC's of the monster world

The ABC’s of the monster world

The nights are getting longer.

Dark falls much earlier these days; there are more shadows and more things hiding in corners, beneath, and behind. More beasts to scare you.

More creatures to catch you.

You can probably name a few of them but do you know what, exactly, lurks where you’re not expecting it? Read “M is for Monster” by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gerald Kelley (c.2014, Sleeping Bear Press, $16.99, 32 pages) and find out … if you dare!

A is at the top of the alphabet, so maybe it’s right that we start at the top of the world where A is for Amarok. It’s a fierce wolf-like creature that’s almost as big as a man and that hides in the forest. The Inuit fear the Amarok — and you should, too.

“Almost every culture has its own favorite dragon,” says J. Patrick Lewis, so that’s what D stands for: dragons. Most of them breathe fire and they make excellent guards for your castle. Some are tamed, but there’s no word on housebreaking issues.

If you live in a big city, you might be familiar with Gargoyles, which is the G word here. Originally meant to help keep buildings safe from rainwater, there’s an interesting (and frightening) myth that goes along with them. No wonder the stone beasts are so scary!

Is it a bird? Is it a snake? It’s both, because Q is for Quetzalcoatl, a creature that appears to be many parts, including a bit of human. He’s huge and he’s terrifying, but he’s not such a bad guy underneath: the Aztecs thought he invented books and calendars and that he brought corn, so they worshipped him.

U is for unicorn, a creature that’s hardly a monster. Legend has it that the shy, gentle horse-with-a-horn can cleanse water and heal injuries, and it’s attracted by purity and innocence. In truth, however, the creatures have never been seen — although several kinds of animals could really fool you.

And then we end at the end with Z for zombies. Yes, the Undead are shocking — maybe because they’re portrayed as a sign of the end of the world!

Looking for a great book for sleepovers and campfires this fall? “M is for Monster” fits that fine, but beware of who you’re scaring…

You probably wouldn’t think, for example, that an alphabet book is for older kids but this one definitely is. Author J. Patrick Lewis offers a basic intro to twenty-six monsters from different cultures, while illustrator Gerald Kelley’s artwork enhances the narrative to lend an eerie feeling to each creature profile.

But there’s the beware: small, sensitive children may run, screaming, into a bedtime full of nightmares after they see what’s inside this book. The artwork is incredible but it works its magic entirely too well for little ones.

And so, while you may want to keep this out of 3-to-6-year-old hands, I think 7-to-12-year-olds (and some adults) will cherish this book for its info and its art. “M is for Monster” may be something they’ll want to read a little longer.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

More in Life

Carly Garay’s “Earth” is one of the works in her “The Art of Ancestor Veneration,” on display through Oct. 30, 2021, at the Homer Council on the Arts in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Garay lifts the veil between living and dead with “Art of Ancestor Veneration”

HCOA show invites people to submit own images of ancestors at central altar.

Chewy soft pretzels are easy to make at home. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Penisula Clarion)
Chewy soft pretzels are easy to make at home. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Sisterhood and soft pretzels

Our favorite snack there, the one I know will always make her smile, was a soft pretzel with cheese sauce.

The welcome sign for the City of Kenai, as seen in this city Facebook page photo.
History with a sense of humor, Part 1

The first part of a two-part collection of humorous tales gleaned from old newspapers on the central Kenai Peninsula.

Ward off Halloween’s mystical monsters with these garlic-infused cheesy shells and pepper sauce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Tasty Halloween

Keep spooky creatures at bay with garlic-infused shells and pepper sauce.

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Let there be lights!

When I stopped in at one of our local stores, I didn’t cringe when I saw all the holiday decorations on display.

Cabbage, potatoes, salmon and an assortment of pantry staples make for a culinary challenge. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Take a culinary pop quiz

Get creative with what’s in your pantry

This undated John E. Thwaites photo, perhaps taken near Seward, shows the S.S. Dora grounded. (Alaska State Library photo collection)
Resilience of the Dora, part 3

Her long career had come to an end at last.

Nick Varney
Unhinged Alaska: Sometimes I wonder, who needs who

Dog whispers we are not. Suckers for unconditional love, you bet.

Meredith Harber (courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Don’t let termination dust bring you down

If I’m honest, this time of year is the hardest for me mentally and emotionally.

Pieces hang on display at the Kenai Art Center for the open call show on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘They felt like they could share with us now’

Art center open call offers space for new artists.

The Cosmic Hamlet Entertainment film crew prepares for a new scene to roll on the set of “Bolt from the Blue” at the Kilcher Homestead on Sept. 28. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
‘Bolt from the Blue’ film features Homer

“The Office” star Kate Flannery cast in feature film produced in Homer.

These old-fashioned doughnuts don’t skimp on the fat or sugar. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
On the strawberry patch: Memories of old-fashioned doughnuts

My recipe is for old-fashioned doughnuts, and since I make these maybe twice a year, I don’t skimp on the sugar and fat.