Recommended Reading: Monster Reference Books

This is a great series I started collecting after happening across one of the books at an estate sale.  They aren't a true series, so you can collect them in any order or just pick up one or a few.  You don't need to collect all of them.  There is some overlap in the entries from one book to the next, but most of each volume is original to it.  In fact, the Monsters in the Night book is actually all about wildlife, not fictional monsters at all.  I knew this and bought it away knowing that the style and format were fun and educational.  All of these can easily be found on Amazon or eBay.


Here's the good and bad of each:
The Scope: The most surprising thing about the series is just how broadly inclusive each volume is.  Rather than sticking with familiar legends, each book is fairly multi-cultural, featuring creatures from myths originating in, for example, the Middle East, Japan, Africa, etc. as well as classic movie monsters, Greek myths, and Western literature.  It also includes a wide temporal range, everything from ancient folklore to urban legends.

Format: Each entry follows a particular format of starting with a full-page image of the monster with some textual highlights, followed by the backstory, then a snippet about the geographical origins of the legends, and concluding with some trivia that may be tangential to the story.  It isn't so clinical as an encyclopedia entry, but it falls short of being strictly narrative in format.  Maybe that's a shortcoming, but I think it's a fair compromise.  I read these to my son before bedtime, so I found that it worked best to read the story first (even though it was on the right), then go over the notes on the picture to the left afterward.

Artwork: The biggest criticism I see in the reviews of these books is of the artwork.  Although done by different artists, there's a particular style that is employed in each (the biggest exception being the Cryptids volume).  It's a little cartoonish while still trying to retain a strictly painted style (as opposed to say, comic-style line drawings), and that works against it.  However, I bought these primarily to read with my #1 monster-fan son, and he has no problem with over-the-top depictions of monsters.  I mean, why would you want subtlety when they could be this loud?

I've listed the Table of Contents for each of the volumes in the series, so they give you an idea which monsters are covered in each.  The original editions of the Dragons and Unicorns collections are each about half the length of the others.  I'm sure in hindsight the editors would agree that they would have done better to simply put those together in the same volume.  (Update: The Dragons collection has been updated.  I included the expanded edition below the original on this page.)

Additionally, there is a little overlap in the content of the volumes (except for Monsters of the Night, which is distinct in that it covers real wildlife).  In some cases entire entries are duplicated across volumes (i.e., where monsters fit under both headings), but in some volumes (the Cryptids one, especially), the text is the same but the formatting/artwork is different since that volume had a different style than the others.

Overall, I really like these collections.  They're sort of like the D&D "monster manuals," only with narrative origins in mind rather than gameplay.  Like I said above, they made for great little bedtime stories that never felt dumbed-down.



Mythical Monsters: The Scariest Creatures from Legends, Books, and Movies by Chris McNab (2006)

Ancient Legends/Folklore
Black Dog
Bogeyman
Chupacabra
Gogmagog
Golem
Leviathan
Mer People
Mummy
Tokoloshe
Troll

Mythological Monsters
Basilisk
Cerberus
Chimaera
Cyclops
Fenrir
Gorgon
Griffin
Harpy
Hydra
Kraken
Manticore
Minotaur
Oni
Roc
Scylla
Sphinx
Thunderbird
Wyvern

Media Monsters (from books and movies)
Dracula
Frankenstein's Monster
Gargantua
Godzilla
King Kong
Mothra
Werewolf

Modern Monsters
Bigfoot
Gray Alien
Hopkinsville Goblin
Jersey Devil
Loch Ness Monster
Mothman
Reptoid Alien
Yeti
Yowie

Note: There is an updated version of this with a new cover.  I didn't flip through it though to see if the contents were different.



Dragons: Fearsome Monsters from Myth and Fiction by Gerrie McCall (Editor) (2007)

Ancient Legends
Beowulf's Dragon
Gorynych
Krak's Dragon
Knucker
Orochi
St. George and the Dragon
Wyvern

Mythological Dragons
Apalala
Farnir
Fut-Lung
Hatuibwari
Jawzahr
Ladon
Ryujin
Shen-Lung

Media Dragons
Glaurung
Hungarian Horntail
Luckdragon
Norwegian Ridgeback
Smaug

Note: This edition of this volume is about half the size of others in this series.  However, it has been expanded.  See below...

Alternative version:
Dragons: Fearsome Monsters from Myth and Fiction by Gerrie McCall & Kieron Connolly (2013)

This is an expanded version of the original, shorter edition above, which brings this volume to scale with the rest of the series.  The titles of the sections of the book have changed a bit.  The new entries are noted with an asterisk.

Mythological Dragons (originally "Ancient Legends")
Beowulf's Dragon
Gorynych
Krak's Dragon
Knucker
Orochi
St. George and the Dragon
Balaur*
Wyvern
Zilant*
Bolla & Kulshedra*
Cuelebre*
Tungarin Zmeyevich*
Lindworm*
Fafnir*
Sarkany*
Zahhak*
Lagarfljot Worm*
Nidhogg*

Ancient Mythical Dragons (originally "Mythological Dragons")
Tiamat*
Typhon*
Gong Gong*
Bakunawa*
Rong*
Illuyanka*
The Colchis Dragon*
Apalala
Neak*
Fut-Lung
Hatuibwari
Jawzahr
Ladon
Ryujin
Shen-Lung

Dragons in Literature (originally "Media Dragons")
Glaurung
The Seven-Headed Dragon*
The Red Dragon*
Hungarian Horntail
Tintaglia*
The Northern Dragon*
Luckdragon
Norwegian Ridgeback
Chrysophylax Dives*
Green Death*
Smaug


Unicorns: Magical Creatures from Myth and Fiction by Mia Di Francesco (2007)

Medieval Unicorns
Kirin
Hunted Unicorns
European Unicorns

Ancient Legends
Noah's Ark
King Arthur
The Garden of Eden
Genghis Kahn

Mythological Unicorns
The Lion and the Unicorn
Harz Mountains Unicorn
Kilins
Karkadann
Unicorns as Healers

Media Unicorns
Harry Potter and the Unicorns
Jewel
Alice and the Unicorn
The Last Unicorn
Nico
Lightfoot
Allegra

Note: This edition of this volume is about half the size of others in this series.


Monsters and Villains of the Movies and Literature by Gerrie McCall (Author) (2008)

Monsters from the Movies

Werewolf
The Creature from the Black Lagoon
Imhotep
Bride of Frankenstein
The Blob
Nosferatu
King Kong
Jaws
Flying Monkeys
Hannibal Lecter
Jason
Zombies

Terror in the Library
Frankenstein's Monster
Dracula
The Headless Horseman
Triffid
Morlocks
Jabberwock
Mr. Hyde
Orc
Shelob
Lord Sauron
Ringwraith
Quasimodo
Phantom of the Opera
Moby Dick

Fairy Tales and Fantasy
Caliban
Macbeth's Witches
Rumplestiltskin
Witch
Evil Queen
Mordred

Creatures of Myth
Medusa
Hydra
Cerberus
Chimera
Harpy
Siren
Sphinx
Grendel
Fenrir
Fafnir
Sleipnir
Ziz Bird


Cryptids and Other Creepy Creatures: The World of Unsolved Mysteries by John D. Wright (2009)

Creatures from the Deep

Loch Ness Monster
Thetis Lake Monster
Morgawr
Lake Tianchi Monster
Mokele-mbembe
Ogopogo
Cadborosaurus willsi

Yeti, Bigfoot, and other Giants
Yeti
Skunk Ape
Nguoi Rung
Hibagon
Bigfoot
Fear Liath Mor
Mothman
Emela-ntouka

Goblins, Gremlins, and Goatman
Hopkinsville Goblins
Gremlins
Yowie
Goatman
Jersey Devil

Wildcats, Birds, and Bats
Onza
Beast of Bodmin Moor
Chupacabra
Kongamato
Ropen
Orang Bati

Ghosts and Ghouls
Stockhom Metro Ghost Train
Crew of the Mary Celeste
Ghost Prisoners of Alcatraz
Crybaby Bridge
The Monster of Glamis Castle
The Hookerman's Light
The Hampton Court Ghosts

The Unexplained
Bermuda Triangle
Spontaneous Human Combustion
The Face on Mars
Roswell/Area 51
Alien Abduction
Men in Black
Crop Circles
Alligators in New York Sewers
The Mexican Pet
Giant Man-eating Catfish
Bridey Murphy

Note: As mentioned above, this edition differs in its artwork.  Even where the text of entries is the same as in other volumes (where the same creatures also appear in other books), the artwork is different.  The art throughout is a different style than in most of these, somewhat more abstract.


Vampires, Werewolves & Zombies Paperback by Lisa Regan (Author) (2009)

Literary Monsters

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Lord Ruthven
Carmilla
Lestat
Edward Cullen
Eli
The Hound of the Baskervilles
The Infected (from I am Legend)

Historical Monsters
Elizabeth Bathory
Lamia
Strigoi
Baobhan Sith
Vlad Dracul
Vrykolakes
Volkodlac
The Beast of Gevaudan

Monster Myths around the World
Werebears
Je-Rouges
Chupacabra
Mandurugo
Jiang Shi
Penanggalan
Asanboam
Nocnitsa
Mara
Banshee
Black Annis
Yuki-Onna
Yama Uba
Jikininki
Rokurokubi
Adlet
Nidhogg
Yara-ma-yha-who

Modern Monsters
Impundulu
Boo Hag
Loogaroo
Lobisomem
The Beast of Bray Road

Movie Monsters
The Wolf Man
Nosferatu
Christopher Lee as Dracula
Zombie (from I Walked with a Zombie)
Zombies (from Night of the Living Dead)


Monsters in the Night by Lisa Regan (2010)

As I mention above, this is one of the odd volumes in this series in that it isn't about monsters at all, but rather about real animals*.

In the Air Tonight
Dead's Head Hawkmoth
Eagle Owl
Firefly
Flying Squirrel
Mosquito
Pipistrelle Bat
Vampire Bat

Night Crawlers
Cockroach
Dung Beetle
Red-Kneed Tarantula
Thick-Tailed Scorpion
Wels Catfish

Something to Look At
Anglerfish
Bat-Eared Fox
Copperhead Snake
Ground Pangolin
Hippopotamus
Kakapo
Kiwi
Naked Mole Rat
Nine-Banded Armadillo
Moray Eel

On the Prowl
Angel Shark
Gray Wolf
Jaguar
Leopard
Honey Badger
Screech Owl
Spotted Hyena
Tasmanian Devil

In the Neighborhood
Bandicoot
Barn Owl
Click Beetle
European Badger
Hedgehog
Raccoon

Tree Dwellers
Aye-Aye
Binturong
Green Tree Python
Koala
Loris
Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Tarsier
Virginia Opposum

Note: This volume is unique in that it is about real creatures rather than mythological/fictional entities.

*Additionally, Chris McNab and Gerrie McCall (authors of several of the other monster books on this page) are among the authors of another series with a similar format as these (e.g., landscape layout, annotated picture on the left, description on the facing page, map of locations in the lower right corner, etc., though slightly smaller and hardcover).  I have the first of them listed below.  It's from a different publisher, apparently appearing in the UK first, then the States.

Dangerous Insects And Spiders (Nature's Monsters: Insects & Spiders)
Endangered Reptiles (Nature's Monsters: Reptiles and Amphibians)
Giant Spiders & Insects: Giant Spiders And Insects (Nature's Monsters: Insects & Spiders)
Frogs, Toads, & Salamanders (Nature's Monsters: Reptiles & Amphibians)
Plant-eating Dinosaurs (Nature's Monsters: Dinosaurs)
Terrifying & Ugly Sea Creatures (Nature's Monsters; Water Creatures)
Fierce Water Creatures (Nature's Monsters: Water Creatures)
Prehistoric Beasts (Nature's Monsters: Dinosaurs)
Poisonous Spiders (Nature's Monsters: Insects & Spiders)
Small & Deadly Dinosaurs: Small And Deadly Dinosaurs (Nature's Monsters: Dinosaurs)
Social Insects (Nature's Monsters: Insects & Spiders)
Weird & Wonderful Fish (Nature's Monsters: Water Creatures)
Prehistoric Creatures in the Sea & Sky (Nature's Monsters: Dinosaurs)
Crabs & Mollusks (Nature's Monsters: Water Creatures)
Flying Insects (Nature's Monsters: Insects & Spiders)
Constrictor Snakes (Nature's Monsters, Reptiles & Amphibians)
Armored & Spiked Dinosaurs (Nature's Monsters: Dinosaurs)
Meat-eating Dinosaurs (Nature's Monsters: Dinosaurs)
Sharks (Nature's Monsters: Water Creatures)
Lizards (Nature's Monsters: Reptiles and Amphibians)



Mythical Monsters: Legendary, Fearsome Creatures by Gerrie McCall and Chris McNab (2011)

Ancient Legends and Folklore
Beowulf's Dragon
Chupacabra
Corynych
Knucker
Krak's Dragon
Leviathon
Mummy
Orochi
St. George and the Dragon
Wyvern

Mythological Monsters
Basilisk
Cerberus
Cyclops
Fafnir
Futs-Lung
Gorgon
Griffin
Hatuibwari
Jawzahr
Kraken
Ladon
Minotaur
Oni
Ryujin
Shen-Lung
Sphinx
Thunderbird

Movie Monsters
Dracula
Frankenstein's Monster
Glaurung
Godzilla
Hungarian Horntail
King Kong
Luckdragon
Norwegian Ridgeback
Smaug
Werewolf

Modern Monsters
Bigfoot
Hopkinsville Goblin
Jersey Devil
Loch Ness Monster
Reptoid Alien
Yeti
Yowie


World's Worst Monsters & Villains Scary Creatures of Myth, Folklore, and Fiction by Kieron Connolly (Author) (2012)

Mythical Monsters

Ghoul
Bab Yaga
The Elf King
Zmag Oghjeni Vuk
Troll
Nuckelavee
Amarok
Cockatrice
Kallikantzaros
Vetala
Tatzelwurm
Bunyip
Langsuir
Zahhak

Classic Folk Tales
The Giant from Sinbad's Third Voyage
The Sorcerer from Aladdin
The Wolk from The Three Little Pigs
The Giant from Jack and the Beanstalk
Lambton Worm
The Tanuki from Kachi-Kachi Yama
Little Otik
The Orge from The Flea

Literary Monsters
Lord Voldemort
Gollum
Red Weed
Saruman
Tharks
The Snow Queen
Cthulhu

Gods & Monsters
Loki
Jormungand
Theelgeth
Set
Ammut
Humbaba
Gallu
Alecto
Vritra
Camazotz
Agros
Atraoimen
Morrigan
Xingtian
Xiang Yoa


Stories of the Constellations by Kieron Connolly (2013)
Introduction
The Night Sky
The Speed of Light
The Spinning Top
The Constellations
The Zodiac
Reading Star Maps
Dos and Don'ts
Stargazing

Andromeda
Aquarius
Aquila
Aries
Auriga
Boötes
Cancer
Canis Major
Canis Minor
Capricornus
Carina
Cassiopeia
Centaurus
Corona Borealis
Corvus
Crater
Cygnus
Delphinus
Draco
Equuleus
Eridanus
Gemini
Great Bear
Hercules
Hydra
Leo
Lepus
Libra
Little Bear
Lyra
Ophiuchus
Orion
Pegasus
Perseus
Pisces
Sagittarius
Scorpius
Taurus
Virgo
The Milky Way


Note:
I noticed that this one says it's only available through the direct-to-school market, which was where I found it (i.e., at the book fair at Stan's school).  Amazon doesn't have a listing for it.  Apparently it was only published in the UK.

On a related note...

There is a related series called Monsters & Myths that includes the following volumes (48 pages each, which is half what the above series contains):

Classical Myths by Gerrie McCall and Lisa Regan
Urban Myths and Legendary Creatures by Lisa Regan and Chris McNab
Half Man, Half Monster by Gerrie McCall and Lisa Regan
Dragons and Serpents by Gerrie McCall and Lisa Regan
Bloodsucking Beasts by Lisa Regan
Movie Monsters by Gerrie McCall and Chris McNab
Ferocious Giants by Gerrie McCall and Lisa Regan

I haven't run across copies of any of these, so I don't know how they compare in terms of contents.  I'm just putting this out there.


One volume has come out each year, so I hope to find another one soon.  If I've missed it, please let me know.
   

Copyright 2013, 2014 the Ale[x]orcist.
Home