Thursday, October 31, 2013

Penny’s S.C.R.E.A.M. II


BIGFOOT: Hey, Penny. What gives? You were supposed to—

PENNY: Hi, Bigfoot. Bye, Bigfoot. Can’t talk. Running late.

BIGFOOT: Wait a second! Aren’t you forgetting something?

PENNY: Am I? No, I’ve got my bag right here.

BIGFOOT: Bag? No, I mean you didn’t—

PENNY: Turn off the stove? Could you get it for me? I’m in a hurry.

BIGFOOT: No, you forgot to make your list—

PENNY: Is it grocery day already?

BIGFOOT: No, but it is a special day.

PENNY: Oh, no! Did I forget somebody’s birthday? Was I in charge of the cake? 

BIGFOOT: Penny, it’s Halloween. Remember what you forgot to do last Halloween?

PENNY: Oh. That.

BIGFOOT: Yes, that. You promised if we made S.C.R.E.A.M. lists again, you’d remember to do one this time.

PENNY: I forgot again.

BIGFOOT: I know.

PENNY: I’m sorry. I’ve just been so distracted.

BIGFOOT: With what? Wait. That bag. That’s a bowling ball bag.

PENNY: Uh…

BIGFOOT: What are you late for?

PENNY: Uh…

BIGFOOT: Penny? Are you in the bowling league after we all agreed to disband the Cryptid Crankers?

PENNY: Technically we didn’t agree to that.

BIGFOOT: What do you mean “we”? Has everybody but me been bowling? 

PENNY: Uh…

BIGFOOT: Even Morzant!?

PENNY: He’s actually gotten pretty good now that he knows he’s not supposed to aim for the gutter. Tonight’s the big tournament. We may actually win! Can you believe it?

BIGFOOT: That’s great. Really. Great.

PENNY: You know, we could use an extra player tonight. Norman is going to a costume party. Will you fill in for him?

BIGFOOT: Well, I was going to catch up on some Halloween reading.

PENNY: Okay then, see you later—

BIGFOOT: But if you really need help, I shouldn’t leave you in the lurch.

PENNY: So you’ll bowl with us? Great! And I promise, next year I absolutely positively will not forget to make a S.C.R.E.A.M. list.

BIGFOOT: I’ll be happier if you promise to bowl a 210.

Oliver’s S.C.R.E.A.M. II

Super Creepy Crunchy Colorful 
Reading Extravaganza A la Mode: 
Back for Seconds

I changed the “Creepy” in my S.C.R.E.A.M. II list to “Crunchy” and “Colorful.”


AND THEN COMES HALLOWEEN
by Tom Brenner, illustrated by Holly Meade
[PICTURE BOOK]
Candlewick, 2009

This book is about knowing it’s time for Halloween because autumn has come. When I read this book I can hear the crunchy sound dry leaves make. I can imagine pretty autumn colors. I can see them, too, because the pictures show red, orange, brown, and yellow. There are also black witches’ hats and a black cat.

Autumn is windy and cold. I can feel the wind and cold when I read this book. I can feel the special cozy feeling you have when it’s cold and windy outside but you’re inside and warm.

I can also feel the happiness of knowing that Halloween is coming. The kids in this book make decorations. They carve pumpkins. They go trick-or-treating. They spread out their candy to look at it. This all happens in autumn.

The words in this book sound like poems. They make you feel like autumn. They make you feel like Halloween.


CLICK, CLACK, BOO!: A TRICKY TREAT
by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
[PICTURE BOOK]
Atheneum-Simon & Schuster, 2013

Farmer Brown doesn’t like the sights and sounds of Halloween. On Halloween night he hides under his covers because he’s scared of witches, pirates, and spooky sounds. Farmer Brown wouldn’t be scared if he knew that the witches are just the sheep in black hats and the sounds are just the farm animals making noise at their Halloween party. Then Farmer Brown hears a sound that’s not an autumn sound or a Halloween sound. When he hears “quackle,” he gets out of bed to see what’s going on. If you’ve read CLICK, CLACK, MOO: COWS THAT TYPE, you know cows leave notes for Farmer Brown saying they want electric blankets. In this book, Farmer Brown finds another note on his door. You can read the book to see what the note says and if Farmer Brown stops being scared and starts having Halloween fun.


GHOST IN THE HOUSE
by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Adam Record
[PICTURE BOOK]
Candlewick, 2013

Autumn leaves crunch. Geese flying south honk. People say, “Trick-or-treat.” Those are good sounds that make this time of year special. This book has other kinds of sounds you might hear at Halloween—the sounds ghosts, mummies, and witches make.
The story starts with a ghost who thinks he’s alone in a house. He gets scared when he hears a sound because he doesn’t know who’s making it. Then he sees a mummy. If I saw a mummy in the house I would scream and run away. But the ghost is relieved because he’s not scared of mummies. Then there’s another creepy sound. The ghost and mummy are scared until they find out it’s just a monster. The group of creatures gets bigger and they aren’t scared of any of the other noisy creatures they meet in the house. The last sound is made by somebody who does scare them. You can read the book to see who it is and what sound he makes.



Autumn is a good time to read and so is Halloween. If you want to know some more good books about autumn and Halloween, you can look at my other S.C.R.E.A.M. list.

Lenny’s S.C.R.E.A.M. II


Super Creepy Reading Extravaganza A la Mode:
Back for Seconds

It’s not usually fun to be scared, but sometimes it is. One time it’s fun is when you’re around a campfire sharing ghost stories with your friends. Another time it’s fun to be scared is Halloween. Halloween is about scary stuff like ghosts and monsters, but it’s a fun kind of scary because ghosts and monsters are make-believe.


SCAREDY SQUIRREL PREPARES FOR HALLOWEEN: 
A SAFETY GUIDE FOR SCAREDIES
by Mélanie Watt
[PICTURE BOOK]
Kids Can Press, 2013

Scaredy Squirrel doesn’t think being scared is ever fun. To make himself feel better during Halloween he has plans for how to stay safe. His plans help him feel less scared. He has plans for carving pumpkins, decorating, and eating candy. He also has a map showing trick-or-treaters how to stay away from hungry plants and creepy houses that look like ghosts live in them. There’s another part with ideas for costumes. A “Scare-O-Meter” under different costume pictures shows if the costumes are “unscary,” regular scary, or “terrifying.” The Scare-O-Meter says a super squirrel costume is unscary and a zombie costume is terrifying.

If you don’t like the scary parts of Halloween, you can take Scaredy Squirrel’s advice to use a scarecrow or blender to scare away monsters and to use a plastic knife to safely carve a pumpkin (one that is nice, not scary). If you think Halloween’s scary parts are fun, you’ll like this book because it’s silly and will make you laugh.


DRAGON’S HALLOWEEN
by Dav Pilkey
[PICTURE BOOK]
Orchard Books, 1993

I don’t have a picture of this book. I wish you could see it. Dragon is on the front with his six cats. Dragon is blue. His cats are all different colors. Some are big and some are little. There’s a big yellow autumn moon in the background and trees without any leaves on them.

Dragon likes Halloween for the fun types of scary. In this book there are three stories. In the first story Dragon has to figure out how to make six cute little pumpkins into scary jack-o’-lanterns. In the second story Dragon tries really hard to come up with a scary costume to wear. He finds one by accident. In the third story Dragon gets scared in the way that isn’t fun. When he’s walking through the woods at night, he hears scary sounds. At the end of the story, he finds out what’s making the sounds. It isn’t anything scary. The sound-maker is a surprise that will make you laugh.


CREEPY CARROTS
by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown
[PICTURE BOOK]
Simon & Schuster, 2012

Everybody is scared of something. Scaredy Squirrel is scared of bobbing for apples and getting cavities from Halloween candy. Bigfoot thinks clowns are scary. That’s silly. Beverly is scared of spiders. Violet pretends not to be scared of heights, but she is. The rabbit in this book is scared of creepy carrots.

The rabbit’s name is Jasper. Jasper loves regular carrots. His favorite place is Crackenhopper Field where there are lots of carrots to eat. One day the carrots leave the field and follow Jasper home. He isn’t sure at first if they’re really real. When he thinks they’re nearby, he turns to look but just sees regular things like rubber duckies and buckets of orange paint. His parents don’t believe creepy carrots are following Jasper so he has to protect himself from the creepy carrots on his own. I won’t tell you how he does that. I won’t tell you what happens at the end, either. I will tell you there is a surprise ending that has to do with what the creepy carrots are scared of. Everybody is scared of something.


My other S.C.R.E.A.M. list is here. It has lots of books about witches on it. I like witches because they can fly. They don’t scare me at all. I bet you wonder what I am scared of, don’t you? Try and guess.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Violet’s S.C.R.E.A.M. II


Super Creepy Reading Extravaganza A la Mode:
Back for Seconds

I’m Violet and I love Halloween and I am going to tell you what I love most about Halloween and the thing I love most about Halloween isn’t candy. Bigfoot says that chocolate is bad for puppies. That is why every Halloween Bigfoot takes Lenny and me and Oliver to the library to trick-or-treat for books. We wear our Halloween costumes when we go and this year Lenny was a vampire pumpkin dog and I was a scary monster with antennae and sparkles on my tail and Oliver was a ghost. These are the books I got when I trick-or-treated at the library this year.


VAMPIRE BABY
by Kelly Bennett, illustrated by Paul Meisel
[PICTURE BOOK]
Candlewick, 2013

You probably know what a vampire is but in case you don’t know about vampires I will tell you that they are monsters who have fangs and like to drink blood and can turn into bats and only come out at night and are sometimes named Dracula. You don’t need to worry about vampires because they are only make-believe and also because sometimes in books vampires are nice instead of scary.

One nice vampire is in the picture book VAMPIRE BABY about a cute little baby named Tootie who has pointy teeth. Did you know that pointy teeth are also called fangs? They are and that is why Tootie’s big brother thinks Tootie is a vampire. She also likes to bite with her fangs and she also likes foods that are red like blood and she also is awake in the nighttime and those are more reasons Tootie’s big brother thinks she is a vampire. Tootie’s big brother decides his baby sister who is a vampire should go live with other vampires but in the end he decides he loves Tootie and he wants to keep her even though she bites him with her fangs.

This is a good book that is not scary at all because Tootie is a cute little vampire baby and maybe she isn’t even a vampire. Did you know that not everybody who has fangs is a vampire? I have fangs and I am not a vampire but maybe I will pretend to be one for Halloween next year and find a black cape to wear and learn how to turn into a bat.


VAMPIRINA BALLERINA
by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
[PICTURE BOOK]
Disney-Hyperion, 2012

This picture book has a vampire in it too and her name is Vampirina and she has fangs and she lives in a big castle and she sleeps in a coffin and she wants to be a ballerina. And now you know everything about Vampirina except how she becomes a ballerina and she does that by taking ballet lessons and by practicing and practicing and practicing. She practices with a ghost in the attic and a mummy in the cellar and a skeleton in the graveyard but the ghost and the mummy and the skeleton aren’t scary because they are nice and they have fun helping Vampirina practice being a ballerina.

When Vampirina goes to ballet class she has to go at nighttime because vampires sleep during the day. Even though it is a nighttime class Vampirina is the only vampire. The other little girls in the class are just regular little girls who want to be ballerinas. The regular little girls all wear pink and at first they are scared of Vampirina who wears a black cape that makes it look like she has bat wings. But after they dance together the little girls aren’t scared of Vampirina anymore because they are too busy learning how to be ballerinas.

After all of their practicing the little girls put on a dance show and that is my favorite part because first they are a little scared to dance in the show but then they swoop and kick and leap and feel happy together because they are ballerinas.

This book has lots and lots of good pictures. My favorite is when Vampirina turns into a bat during ballet class because that is really funny. My other favorite picture is when Vampirina is practicing to be a ballerina with the ghost and the mummy and the skeleton. And my other favorite picture is all the rest of the pictures. I like the colors and Vampirina’s nightgown with spiders on it and the tutu she wears during the show at the end.


THE LITTLE LEFTOVER WITCH
by Florence Laughlin
[MIDDLE GRADE]
Simon & Schuster, 2013 (originally published: Macmillan, 1960)

The first book I told you about had a vampire in it and the second book I told you about had a vampire in it but the third book I am going to tell you about doesn’t have a vampire in it. It has a witch in it. It is a really good book and it is a book with chapters so I had to have Penny read it to me because I can only read books without chapters. That’s okay because I like when somebody reads to me and Penny is a really good reader.

This book is called THE LITTLE LEFTOVER WITCH because it has a little leftover witch in it and the witch is named Felina and she is leftover because Halloween is over and she is left behind because her broom got broken and she couldn’t fly back to the place where witches live. There is a rule in the book and I don’t know if it is a magic rule or a witch rule but the rule is that witches can’t fly on their brooms unless it is Halloween. That means that Felina is stuck living for a whole year with a family that has a mom and a dad and a little girl named Lucinda and a cat named Itchabody. 

At first Felina is grouchy because sometimes witches are grouchy and also because she is upset that she can’t go home and also because the family won’t feed her black-bat soup and jibbers’ gizzards and also because it is hard to be a witch when there are no other witches around. You might think that the mom and the dad and Lucinda and Itchabody wouldn’t like the little leftover witch because she is so grouchy but they like her a lot and are nice to her. Itchabody is extra happy because he likes being a witch’s cat instead of just a regular cat.

Felina gets to go to a birthday party and to school and to celebrate Christmas and to do all sorts of things that she never got to do before and by the time it is Halloween again she isn’t grouchy anymore and maybe she isn’t a witch anymore either. You will have to read the book to see what happens when it is Halloween again and whether Felina fixes her broom and flies back to the place where witches live. If you can only read books without chapters then you can have somebody read this book to you.


I know you will love these books and if you want to know some more good books to read you can look at my other Halloween list.

Good-bye.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Three Minutes Blowing Out Candles

Normanday #100: One year my wish came true.

Write for three minutes about…

…a birthday memory.

Email what you wrote to woof at bright dot net by the end of the day November 3 (put “Norman Helps Little Old Ladies Across the Street” in the subject line). I’ll post as many of my favorite entries as I want next Monday. Include your first name (or, even better, use a pen name) and age (unless you’re tortoise-old).

Here is the single entry from last week when I asked you to write for three minutes about…

…a rock.

 

Tren Rewy Steb
The wheels glided over the driveway. I felt like I was ice skating. I was ice skating. My fans watched, mesmerized by my grace and talent. How was somebody so young so very good? I tuned them out and focused on my routine. I extended my arms over my head and leapt. I completed a perfect figure eight. The crowd cheered, but my concentration only intensified. I bent at the waist as if about to pick something up, then swept back up. Building momentum, I prepared to pivot and skate backwards. The crowd held their breath in anticipation of the difficult maneuver. The wheel of my skate met a pebble and skidded to a stop. I continued on, landing in the yard hands first, then knees. The crowd vanished, replaced by the girls across the street who giggled into their jump rope-holding fists.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Bigfoot’s S.C.R.E.A.M. II

Super Creepy Reading Extravaganza A la Mode:
Back for Seconds
(With a Side Order of “Coming-of-Age”)

Here we go again. It’s close to Halloween and Penny is after us to recommend scary books. You know me by now. I don’t do scary. I like to sleep with my lights out. I like not worrying about what might be under my bed. I like to dream about pleasant things like flying through ice cream clouds or playing street hockey with kittens.

So why did I agree to do this? It was either this or be in another bowling league with Morzant. That would have made my head explode.

When it comes down to it, I prefer scary to gory.

I like a good coming-of-age story best of all, so I chose three books that will satisfy Penny and the rest of you sleep-with-the-lights-on types and that draw me in because they have characters trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into this crazy world—well, actually, how they fit into their fictional, supernatural, creepy worlds.


DOLL BONES
by Holly Black, with illustrations by Eliza Wheeler
[MIDDLE GRADE]
Margaret K. McElderry-Simon & Schuster, 2013

What’s creepier than dolls? Good point. I’ll give you clowns. But after clowns, dolls are hands down (little-plastic-clawed-hands down) the creepiest. The only time I can stand to be in the same room as a doll is when it’s in the loving embrace of a child. That way I know it isn’t sneaking up on me. DOLL BONES takes a regular run-of-the-mill-creepy doll and amps up the creep factor by the power of kazillion by filling it with the bones of a girl who died under mysterious circumstances. How’s that for quality nightmare fodder?

The main characters are three middle schoolers who make up elaborate stories to act out with action figures. (For the record, action figures are not creepy. Don’t ask me why. They just aren’t.) The other twelve-year olds they know aren’t into those kinds of pretending games anymore, but Zach, Alice, and Poppy are happy creating their own worlds and imagined adventures. When his dad throws out his action figures, though, Zach figures his pretending days are over. Without explaining why, Zach tells the girls he can’t play with them anymore.

They’re understandably upset. If Zach quits, their adventures are shut down. Kaput. Finished—in an unfinished kind of way. It’d be like if somebody ripped a half-read book out of your hands and pitched it into shark-infested waters. Great. Now you’ll never know how it ends.

This is where the doll comes in. Poppy tells her friends that her mom’s doll—her mom’s incredibly creepy doll—has appeared to her in a dream. The ghost of the girl whose bones are inside the doll wants to be buried in a graveyard that happens to be in another town. This is a problem for three kids who, without a chaperone, stick out like my big toe. Not to worry. Problems for them make for good reading for you. Creepy doll-related shenanigans keep you guessing if there’s really a ghost or if Poppy just made it up to get her friends to play with her again.

Taking the doll to the graveyard is only one part of the kids’ quest. The other part is their battle against forces pressuring them to give up storytelling.

To sum up:

• Dolls are terrifying. Take one on a road trip at your own risk.

• You’re never too old for a good story.


ANYA’S GHOST
by Vera Brosgol
[YOUNG ADULT—GRAPHIC NOVEL]
First-Second-Roaring Brook, 2011

What’s worse than falling into an abandoned well? Okay, okay. I’ll give you that one. Falling into a well filled with clowns would be much worse than falling into a plain old empty well. Next worse would be falling into a well with a ghost in it. At least the ghost in this graphic novel doesn’t come packaged inside a doll. Still, being trapped in a well with a ghost of any kind isn’t ideal.

Falling in a well would ruin anybody’s day, but Anya was sulky and bitter before her unfortunate tumble. She’s a regular teenager who cares a lot about fitting in. Her main hang-up is embarrassment about being from another country. She worked hard to get rid of her Russian accent, but it’s harder to shake her association with the scrawny, bullied Russian kid her mom keeps pushing her to hang out with.

Anya’s not stuck in that well too long. When she’s rescued, the ghost comes with her. At first Anya likes having a ghost for a friend. The ghost, Emily, helps Anya get the attention of a boy she likes. She feeds Anya answers during tests and gives her fashion advice. It’s not too shabby an arrangement, at first. Then Anya realizes there are drawbacks to letting a ghost influence her.

It’s hard to say more about ANYA’S GHOST without giving too much away. Ruining endings is Penny’s racket, not mine. Let’s just say Anya figures out Emily is no Casper, ends up taking responsibility for her own happiness, and learns to appreciate her family. Don’t worry horror fans. There’s plenty of eeriness in there, too. No clowns, though, thank goodness.


THE INFECTS
by Sean Beaudoin
[YOUNG ADULT]
Candlewick, 2012

What’s gorier than a chicken processing plant? No, not a clown processing plant. Very funny. The real answer is zombies.

You’re sharp. You probably remember earlier in this post when I said I prefer scary over gory. (I also prefer eggs over easy.) Funny trumps both scary and gory with me, so I had to include THE INFECTS on my list, especially since it’s got a coming-of-age angle that will knock the stripes off your socks.

Normally a book opening with a gruesome accident involving a deboning knife would send me back to the library scrambling for a book (preferably with a 636.807 Dewey number) to cleanse the bloody images from my brain. But then I got to the part where the main character, Nick, starts to lose it. Pretty much every thought he has is interrupted by a hallucinated sarcastic voice that sounds like The Rock. Heck, for that alone, I’d be willing to read an entire twelve-book series about haunted clown dolls with a grudge against cryptids.

But there’s more.

Nick leaves behind his chicken chopping job when he’s sentenced to boot camp. It’s during a wilderness excursion with his comrades-in-detention that really bad things start to happen. Of course, that’s to be expected. In fiction, when a group of teens goes to a remote wooded location together, you just know the javelin-armed killer/zombie horde/ancient-and-evil sea creature/insert supernatural threat here will show up to thin the herd. It’s also expected for characters in horror stories to repeat the same mistakes that result in their being speared/devoured/cursed-and-drowned/insert horrific means of death here. THE INFECTS pokes fun at those clichés with Nick’s hilarious zombie-specific survival rules that help him stay alive and human. You zombie fans will love the “Zombrules” and the book’s references to classic zombie movies.

Like the other two books on my list, this book has a main character who is confused about who he is and who he wants to be. In this case, Nick has to decide if fighting off zombies is worth the trouble. Being human might be overrated.

On a related note, would you rather be a zombie or a clown? Mull it over.


For some more Halloween reading ideas, my S.C.R.E.A.M. list from 2011 is hereIf Penny flakes out like she did last time, there won’t be a S.C.R.E.A.M. III for me, even if that means I’ll have to spend every October for the rest of my life watching Morzant throw gutterballs.



Cryptid Public Service Announcement (CPSA) 
If you insist on scaring the stuffing out of yourself by reading books about creepy dolls, ghosts, and zombies, please make sure to put an energy-efficient bulb in your bedside lamp.




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Morzant’s S.C.R.E.A.M. II


Tuesdays with Morzant:
S.C.R.E.A.M. II: Back for Seconds

Zulko, humans. Perhaps you recall two years ago when my dear horror-loving friend Penny requested we, her cryptid comrades, help her draw attention to books ideal for reading during the season of the macabre—that is to say, Halloween. Several of us obliged; however, last autumn we were preoccupied with a bowling league and did not repeat the exercise. Since the Cryptid Crankers are bowing out of the bowling league this year (due to Bigfoot’s rather extreme reaction to an unfortunate miscommunication whereby I mistakenly believed I was meant to avoid knocking down the bowling pins), we have agreed once more to accommodate Penny’s wishes and compile Halloween reading lists.

Penny called the first haunting literary initiative S.C.R.E.A.M., an acronym that stands for Super Creepy Reading Extravaganza A la Mode. If you wish to refresh your memory about the origins of S.C.R.E.A.M., you can examine the original post about it here. Penny has dubbed this year’s effort S.C.R.E.A.M II: Back for Seconds.

Two years ago, the purpose for reading stories with the intent to, as Penny would say, “creep yourself out” eluded me. In the interim, my studies of Earth literature have deepened my appreciation for the multitudinous reasons to read. I’ve found even I enjoy the occasional vicarious thrill induced by experiencing a zombie apocalypse through the filter of the written word. My studies have also taught me that the realm of the macabre extends beyond the boundaries of fear and into those of mystery, pathos, and humor.

And so Halloween enthusiasts, here is my contribution to S.C.R.E.A.M II: Back for Seconds.

YOUR SKELETON IS SHOWING: 
RYHMES OF BLUNDER FROM SIX FEET UNDER
by Kurt Cyrus, illustrated by Crab Scrambly
[PICTURE BOOK]
Disney-Hyperion, 2013

I’ll begin my list with this picture book poetry collection. The poems can be appreciated individually, but the book is additionally compelling because of the narrative tying the poems together. As a boy traverses a cemetery, he encounters a friendly canine apparition. The boy continues on, attempting to help the ghost dog locate his departed master, all the while encountering the cemetery’s spectral residents. Each meeting is marked, like a gravestone, with a poem describing how the person died. During the course of my studies of Earth literature, I’ve learned poetry can prompt readers to think more deeply about a subject, ignite a sense of wonder, and even elicit a laugh. While the comedic potential of poetry is not new to me, the amalgam of the macabre with humor is. What makes the various gruesome means of demise described in this book so funny? Perhaps it’s the poems’ farcical rhymes full of clever wordplay. Perhaps it’s the outrageously comical illustrations depicting equally outrageous situations. Understanding the appeal of what is often referred to as “dark humor” will undoubtedly require further consideration and experimentation on my part. All I can offer you for now is anecdotal evidence: This book made me laugh. I hope it will bring similar mirth to your Halloween season.


THE GRUESOME GUIDE TO WORLD MONSTERS
by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Henrik Drescher
[PICTURE BOOK]
Candlewick, 2005

Monsters are a Halloween staple. In a time not so distant from the present, I would have read this book about monsters as if it were non-fiction, believing the creatures described within to be actual Earth species. Indeed, Bigfoot and Norman would have taken great pleasure in witnessing such credulity on my part and would have taken measures to further encourage it. Having been on your planet for some time now, however, I recognize that not everything I read is strictly true or accurate. What’s fascinating about this book isn’t that it proffers that the creatures described within actually exist, but that humans from earlier eras believed that they did. Further, the author explains that the creatures were born—figuratively speaking—when scientific explanations for natural phenomenon eluded humans. Bizarre creatures were, for instance, blamed for illnesses beyond the scope of human understanding. In other cases, humans might have used the specter of malicious creatures to influence other humans. I wonder, too, if perhaps there were prehistoric pranksters—Bigfoot and Norman’s ancient predecessors. THE GRUESOME GUIDE TO WORLD MONSTERS is presented as a guide to monsters from all regions of this planet. An earlier, more gullible me would have taken the “Gruesomeness Rating” (ostensibly provided to gauge the likeliness of survival upon encountering each type of creature) and tips to increase survival odds as authoritative information. The modern, more enlightened me realizes these parts are actually examples of dark humor.


MAGIC TREE HOUSE FACT TRACKER: GHOSTS:
A NONFICTION COMPANION TO A GOOD NIGHT FOR GHOSTS
by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, 
with illustrations by Sal Murdicca
[CHAPTER BOOK]
Random House, 2009

Not unlike early humans, my lack of understanding in Earth matters once led me to believe that mummies, vampires, and zombies are real as opposed to fantastical fictional beings concocted by imaginative storytellers. There are many among the human population who would characterize my friends and me as similarly unreal. Not you, of course, but skeptics abound. I don’t take offense at those who disbelieve my existence or that of my friends, though. There are times when I’m uncertain how to classify certain beings. Take ghosts, for example. Are they cryptids, beings whose possible existence is unsubstantiated by evidence and rejected by the scientific community? Or are they merely fabrications, beings imagined into existence by humans in need of a topic of conversation while they roast marshmallows around a campfire? This book doesn’t offer irrefutable proof that ghosts are real. It’s considered non-fiction, though, because it relates actual reports people have given about seeing ghosts. Although these reports are hearsay, they’re strangely persuasive in their prevalence. The book’s authors direct readers to perform their own research into ghosts, offering lists of resources (locations, books, DVDs, and Web sites) budding ghostologists might consult. What better time is there to study ghosts than Halloween? As the authors state, regardless of whether or not ghosts exist, stories about them are entertaining.

Good-bye for now, humans. I hope you enjoy my recommendations. You can also view my S.C.R.E.A.M. list from 2011 herePlease revisit Bigfoot Reads through the rest of October to view my friends’ lists which will reflect their personal tastes in Halloween reading treats.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Three Minutes with a Rock


Normanday #99: I walk my pet rock around the block every day.

Write for three minutes about…

…a rock.

Email what you wrote to woof at bright dot net by the end of the day October 27 (put “Norman has a Chiseled Jaw” in the subject line). I’ll post as many of my favorite entries as I want next Monday. Include your first name (or, even better, use a pen name) and age (unless you’re tortoise-old).

Here is the single entry from last week when I asked you to write for three minutes about…

…your imaginary hobby.


Penny C. Monster
My imaginary hobby is collecting autographs. A lot of people collect celebrity autographs, but I collect regular people’s autographs. Well, kind of regular people. What I do is pick a cemetery to visit. I make rubbings of the headstones there. That’s when you put paper on top of the names and dates on a headstone and rub charcoal over the whole thing until you end up with an impression. I make impressions from January through October. It’s fun to wander around the cemetery reading the headstones. Then I go back on Halloween night, around midnight. That’s when I get my headstone rubbings autographed.