Apparently Canada truly is full of nice people – both past and present – because in the Atlas of Monsters and Ghosts by Federica Magrin ($25.50, Raincoast Books, Lonely Planet Kids) there is only one monster listed in the entire North America section.
Ogopgo, a monstrous green snake with a head of a dog or horse, lives in the waters of Lake Okanagan in British Columbia, Canada. While there are a couple of monsters that roam throughout North American, the rest of the creatures are from the United States. Not surprisingly, but really annoying, particularly as the ghosts that haunt the Millcroft Inn or the City of Kingston seem just as exciting as some of the listed ghosts in this book.
If you are going to make a section on North America and include 18 creatures, maybe give us two.
Otherwise, there is a great selection of monsters and ghosts in this book. I liked reading about the creatures from various parts of the world, many of which have made appearances in books I have read, including Happy Potter (basilisk, phoenix). Upwards of seven creatures are on each page, so while there is lots of fun information, told from the perspective of monster hunter Van Helsing, who defeated his mortal enemy Count Dracula, it’s a quick read.
The sections are divided into areas of the world – Europe, Middle East, Asia – with pictures of the monsters and ghosts laid out on the map so you can see where they come from. Each page has multiple creatures on it, offering you information such as where it is found, its characteristics and, most importantly, how to beat it. Some creatures like Chupagabra, found in agricultural areas in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador and Costa Rica, and Mokele-Mbembre, found in Lake Tele, Democratic Republic of Congo, have a double page spread dedicated to them with more information.
The only other thing I didn’t like about this book was the illustrations. Considering some of the creatures are quite nasty (good thing there are tips on how to escape them although be warned, some are inescapable), they are all rather cute looking. I understand the atlas is a children’s book, but the illustrations could have different.
While this is a great Halloween read, it can can be enjoyed any time during the year when kids want to know what monster may be lurking – or not – in their closet.
A copy of this book was provided by Raincoast Books for an honest review.
The opinions are my own.