As a library assistant at our local public library, I get to make book recommendations, and I’m among the first to get a look at them as they come in. This one arrived last week, just in time for Halloween. The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme is “ghostwritten” by Bobbi Katz and illustrated by Adam McCauley. The poems are all about various types of monsters and things-that-go-bump: from Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster and ghosts to the Loch Ness Monster, Godzilla and (of course) Zombies.
Most of the poems are more silly than scary, although there are some more gruesome parts. For instance, in the poem about Grendel, his mom’s recipe for Danish Pastry begins: “Take half a dozen dozing Danes./Split their skulls./Pull out their brains.” But then in another poem the monsterologist explains that ogres don’t eat humans because they’re too high in cholesterol.
The illustrations are fantastic throughout. The endpapers are made to look like old postage stamps from places like Skull Island (King Kong) and Athens (Medusa). Inside, the book is a treat for the eyes. As the copyright page states:
The illustrations for this book were created using: lots of paper, spaghetti, twigs, tape, Adam’s great grandmother’s stamp collection, paint, file folders, rubber stamps, a scanner, old sketchbooks, new sketchbooks, a printer, a ballpoint pen, a Xerox machine, scraperboard, computer programs, clip art, things found on the street, and some string. Oh yeah, and a few brains and hands.
The overall effect is of a scrapbook of monster memorabilia made by some artsy horror-hunter, and the red leather-esque cover with its embossing and gold detailing is an excellent touch.
If you’re looking for a fun, monstrous way to get your kids to read some poetry, The Monsterologist might be just what the witch doctor ordered.
For a bit of related fun, visit the Monsterologist website, which has audio clips of some of the poems, advice from some famous monsters, and a stamp collection memory game.