Friday, October 30, 2009

Looking for a Good Halloween Costume?

The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters
by Judy Sierra; illustrated by Henrik Drescher
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2005

As encyclopedias go, The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters is one of the more interesting ones out there. The creatures in this book are enough to inspire madness in even the most rational of minds. Even more terrible - all of them are real!

This collection of dread fiends is inspired by actual folk-tales from around the world, with helpful pointers on how to avoid them (if you can). Every monster is rated on a scale from one to five skulls, from mere fright to inevitable death, and a description of where it makes its horrible, horrible home (so you can avoid there).

The author of this book, Judy Sierra, grew up in the DC area, and has been a children's librarian, puppeteer and folklorist for most of her life. She is also the author of another great spooky volume, Monster Goose. What's really great about the Gruesome Guide is that Sierra sticks to creatures you've probably never heard of, organized by the region they came from. You won't find vampires, werewolves or goblins in this book. No, instead it's Ahuizotl, Nkanyamba, or Bunyip . Great for that unique Halloween costume you've been trying to find...

The art in this book is equally great. Henrik Drescher's style (somewhere between Clive Barker and Dave McKean) is simultaneously fleshy and free-form; his monsters look like they were picked out of a madman's nightmares (not that this humble blogger would have any idea what a madman's nightmares look like... not at all...). So, if you're in the mood for something unusual to talk about at the party (or just like to look at scary monsters), find this book, and pay close attention. After all, you don't want one of these things to find you...

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