Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science Behind Your Favorite Monsters


Product Details

$24.99  $23.24
Carolrhoda Books (R)
Publish Date
10.7 X 9.0 X 0.6 inches | 1.75 pounds

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About the Author

Carlyn Beccia (pronounced Betcha) is an author, illustrator and graphic designer. Beccia's children's books, including Monstrous, The Raucous Royals, I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat, and They Lost Their Heads, have won numerous awards including the Golden Kite Honor, the International Reading Association's Children's and Young Adult Book Award, and the Cybils Award. If you would like to know what she has in her zombie preparedness kit, visit her at


"Extraordinarily clever and phenomenally entertaining, this graphics-forward resource intrepidly investigates the science behind eight monsters and cryptids, digging into the possibilities of their existence, exploring ways to react in case of a hypothetical encounter, and drawing real-world parallels. Each scenario is loaded with data: chapters describe why King Kong's size makes him a mathematical impossibility (the square-cube law!), note that the mechanics of bodily decomposition might have made people a few centuries ago inclined to believe in vampires, and map the places in the world where Godzilla might like to stop and take in some radioactivity. Beccia's tone is as accessibly irreverent as it was in They Lost Their Heads! (2018), and she plays no games here, cheerfully admitting that, while Bigfoot is almost surely a hoax, it's best to be prepared to know how to make a cast of his footprint should you happen upon one (instructions included). The saucy cartoon illustrations are packed with hilarious dialogue asides, comparative size charts, and diagrams with helpful tips galore (need to know what to pack for the zombie apocalpyse? This info comes straight from the CDC). Even the sillier segments have practical applications--the advice on what to do when a werewolf attacks can also be used for dogs--and the secondary resources are extensive. A fantastically researched, absolutely delectable approach to science education."--starred, Booklist

-- (8/27/2019 12:00:00 AM)

"Eight renowned monsters of film, fantasy, and folklore offer gateways to scientific fields and enquiries. 'The real magic is science, ' writes Beccia (They Lost Their Heads!, 2018), and to back up the claim, she surrounds introductions to familiar fantastic creatures, from Dracula to Bigfoot, the Kraken, werewolves, and King Kong, with excursions into diverse scientific topics relevant to each. After leading off with a look at the chemical bases of fear and other emotions, for instance, an account of Mary Shelley's creation of Frankenstein's monster serves as entree for discussions of electricity, the experiments of Galvani and others, how defibrillators work, glowing pigs and other products of genetic experimentation, lobotomies, head transplants, and how certain breakfast-cereal dyes turn poop pink. Moreover, later chapters invite readers to sink their teeth into a vampiric timeline from ancient Babylonia and the Twilight saga, weigh King Kong's unlikely mass ratio ('Did Beauty or Math Kill the Beast?'), glimpse a deep-sea 'bone-eating snot-flower worm' chowing down on a dead whale, and assemble an official Centers for Disease Control zombie-preparedness kit that would, uncoincidentally, be just as useful in a pandemic or other natural disaster. The monsters are more comical than scary in the author's painted illustrations, and though her (living) cast defaults to white, she does include some brown-skinned figures. Informative and entertaining throughout for readers undead or otherwise."--starred, Kirkus Reviews

-- (7/22/2019 12:00:00 AM)

"Science and history are scary fun subjects in Carlyn Beccia's fascinating dissection of eight storied creatures from film and folklore.

"Vampires, zombies, werewolves and other mythical monsters have induced fear in audiences for ages. But in Monstrous, Beccia tickles her audience's prefrontal cortexes with eye-opening biology, riveting physics, savory nutrition and more, to prove that 'Science is stronger than fear.' Using gruesome history (like the story of Dracula's namesake, Prince Vlad Dracula, who impaled his enemies with stakes and left their remains to the vultures) or bizarre fun facts (such as pigs created with spinach genes), Beccia ingeniously pulls back the curtain on the supernatural. The infographics throughout help simplify the complex scientific concepts she explains, making them consumable--and enjoyable--for young readers. Even math becomes enticing when calculating why King Kong is too big for reality.

"Whether a budding scientist or a horror film buff, middle-grade readers of all stripes will be captivated by the inner workings of these famous monsters.

"Discover: The joy of science is uncovered in Monstrous by examining eight of fiction's scariest creatures."--Shelf Awareness

-- (11/19/2019 12:00:00 AM)

"At the end of this month, monsters of all shapes and sizes will roam the darkness -- as well as school hallways -- in celebration of Halloween. Two new books explore different sides of some of the scariest creatures in the world.

"For 'Monstrous, ' author and illustrator Carlyn Beccia did five years of research into the strange science relating to Frankenstein's monster, vampires, zombies, King Kong, werewolves, the Kraken, Bigfoot and Godzilla.

"Carlyn Beccia includes sharp and funny illustrations in her new book, 'Monstrous, ' left.

"She got the idea for the book while working on 'They Lost Their Heads: What Happened to Washington's Teeth, Einstein's Brain, and Other Famous Body Parts.' When Beccia learned about a 19th-century Rhode Island family whose members were suspected of being vampires but actually were suffering from tuberculosis, she thought: 'If people of the time had understood the science of monsters, they wouldn't have gotten so off track.'

"In 'Monstrous, ' which is filled with Beccia's sharp and funny illustrations, you can learn loads of basic monster facts (such as 'Where to find the Kraken and other sea creatures' and 'The anatomy of Godzilla'), as well as more offbeat information (such as 'How to communicate with a werewolf' and 'How to become as immortal as a vampire').

"'Monstrous' also explains where the famous monsters came from. For example, zombie stories started emerging in Haiti in the 17th century. Godzilla first appeared in a 1954 Japanese movie as a gigantic underwater dinosaur damaged by the bombs that the United States dropped during World War II.

"'A lot of monsters, ' Beccia says, 'reflect the fears of their time. Fear is not a bad thing. Fear keeps us alive. But you can control your fear by using logic and by using science. You can say, "No, that couldn't happen" or "Well, that could happen, but it wouldn't happen exactly like that."'"--Washington Post

-- (10/8/2019 12:00:00 AM)

"Beccia explores the historical, scientific, and psychological origins of eight notorious monster characters, including Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, zombies, Bigfoot, and others. Beccia illustrates in a ghoulish cartoon style, while infographics explore the monsters' anatomical features and primary characteristics. Additional sections offer 'How to' tips on surviving creature attacks ('If you spot a baby Bigfoot, you might be tempted to play with it, especially if it is cute and furry. Don't'). Beccia explores the circumstances that contributed to the lore behind each being while bringing a scientific dimension to the playful concept. Alongside the text's logical explanations (Could the Kraken really be a giant squid?), there is fun to be had, and readers will savor details about how history, superstition, and human perception have inspired some of the most feared and beloved monster legends."--Publishers Weekly

-- (9/2/2019 12:00:00 AM)

"Beccia delivers an interwoven tale of science, history, and the fictional monsters we love and fear. The mixed-media illustrations are macabre and quirky when fictionalized, while frighteningly accurate when depicting scientific and historical infographics. Balancing darker backgrounds with colorful contrasting text, each monster biography has a mix of paragraphs, diagrams, and time lines/scales. Each monster (perhaps) becomes a little less scary as readers start to understand the science behind each one. From the electricity that seemingly awoke Frankenstein's monster to the radiation that evidently created Godzilla, the science is systematically broken down. Although some of the information may be disturbing for younger readers, the connections to history and science also make the text fascinating and, at times, laugh-out-loud funny. VERDICT Avid fans of dinosaurs, animals, science, history, scary stories, or, more specifically, R.L. Stine's 'Goosebumps' and the 'Hotel Transylvania' series will enjoy these monsters' origin stories."--School Library Journal

-- (8/30/2019 12:00:00 AM)