non-fiction nuggets…monsters of the deep!

Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid, by H.P. Newquist


500 pounds of blood-red monstrosity.  Bulging eyes, larger than beach balls, gleaming out from a bizarre bulb-shaped head.  Massive, groping, writhing arms, lined with powerful, saw-toothed suckers and deadly claws.  Twenty-foot long tentacles, armed with suckers, splaying out at the tips into giant catcher’s mitts.  A huge beak-like mouth concealed beneath its head, with a vicious, spiked tongue lurking inside.

Sound like something out of a horror movie?

You’re right.  These creatures have been  featured regularly in scary stories ranging from Greek myths to Victorian-era science-fiction to Jack Sparrow’s adventures in Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Thing is: they actually exist.

Colossal squid and giant squid populate the far depths of the ocean where they remain elusive, mysterious behemoths, sought by researchers after centuries of sailors’ tales were finally verified by scientists sighting, photographing, and retrieving a few of these goliaths.  In Newquist’s excellent book, Here There Be Monsters, you can learn a colossal lot about these horrifying, yet fascinating creatures.

Newquist has written a wonderfully absorbing account of these two grand-daddies of the squid world, including sailors’ seemingly far-fetched tales of sightings in the middle ages, the long journey to properly recognizing and naming these fellows, the foremost squid researchers’ valiant attempts to see and learn about such shy creatures, and the incredible facts about their complex make-up.  Here you will find excerpts from Moby Dick and photographs of giant squid eyeballs; poetry in praise of squids by Tennyson, and details of exciting squid discoveries through the year 2008.  All written in a riveting, curiosity-inspiring, clear style and filled with fabulous photographs and intriguing old illustrations.

This is a 70-page book, with plenty of text, suitable for older elementary and up.  I found it fascinating!  Younger ones — say 8 or 9 year olds — with a bent towards this subject matter could enjoy having this read with them but might find it overwhelming to tackle on their own.  Great book about a very unusual member of the animal kingdom!