cover image The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters

The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters

Judy Sierra, , illus. by Henrik Drescher. . Candlewick, $18.99 (63pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1727-1

In this globe-trotting bestiary, Sierra (Wild About Books ) recounts native monster legends and Drescher (Pat the Beastie ) sets the horrific mood with slithery ink sketches. Each monster receives a Gruesomeness Rating (one skull-and-crossbones symbol equals "frightening," five mean "fatal"), along with a description and tongue-in-cheek Survival Tip. The author offers folksy strategies for avoiding a forest cave-dwelling kidnapper called the Dziwozony ("If you are small and cute, don't venture alone into a Polish forest") and the clutching Burr Woman of the American Great Plains ("Before helping any nice older ladies, ask to see their fingernails"). Readers learn that the giant half-bird Chiruwi of Malawi will challenge them to wrestle, and that Malaysia's tiny Polong and cricket-like Pelesit secretly burrow under the skin: "People with polong sickness talk endlessly about cats." The mortally dangerous monsters come with fewer instructions, naturally. La cobra grande strikes terror into Amazon travelers ("Sorry, no survivors to query") and the prey-inhaling Nundu allegedly prowls Southern and Eastern Africa ("Survival Tip: Good luck!"). Drescher's grotesque mixed-media illustrations look like doodles after nightmares, and suggest terrified glimpses of these 60-odd ghouls. Given its international scope, this book could use a map and sources for the myths, but as it is, every page provides imaginative fodder for chilling tales. Ages 6-up. (Aug.)