Kids' Book Review: Here There Be Monsters/The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid, by H.P. Newquist

Kids' Book Review: Here There Be Monsters/The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid, by H.P. Newquist

Julie Leibach
Published: 02/04/2011

Many of you out there probably had parents who avidly read to you when you were a kid. Can you recall certain stories that really stuck in your mind? I certainly can. My mom read to me nearly every night, and I fondly remember trips to the library and the smell that only new books bought fresh off the shelf exude.

As the children’s book reviewer at Audubon, I’ve had many opportunities to pass on the joy my mom gave me. But as you devout magazine subscribers have probably noticed, we can’t always fit a tyke title amid our other book essays. The thing is, I receive a lot of awesome kids’ books that I’d love to share with an audience, so I’ve decided to start reviewing the ones I fancy here on The Perch. Check in on Fridays, when I’ll aim to post my reviews.

To get you started, though, I have to re-publish the latest review I did for the magazine, because this book is just so cool and original—great for kids with active imaginations and an interest in science and mystery. If you check it out, I hope your family finds it as mesmerizing as I did:

Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid
By HP Newquist, Houghton Mifflin, 80 pages $18 (Ages 9 and up)

Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow meets a harrowing fate when he’s swallowed by the kraken, a polydactyl marine beast in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. Though the scene is a whale of a Hollywood tale, the creature has roots in fact. Here There Be Monsters is an enthralling account of two bona fide behemoths that awed mariners (and storytellers) long before the 2006 blockbuster: the giant and colossal squids. Beginning with 15th-century maps that depicted chimeras leaping from the seas, HP Newquist’s enchanting narrative—packed with illustrations, literary excerpts, and photographs—chronicles how the kraken (based on the German word for octopus) evolved in people’s imaginations from the stuff of salty sailors’ nightmares to a mysterious benthic organism sought by curious researchers. Gleaning from carcasses and bits of recovered giant squid, scientists pieced together a picture of an eight-armed, two-tentacled, several-hundred-pound mollusk equipped with a parrotlike beak and suckers on its arms. Its cousin, the colossal squid, is more aggressive and even bigger, its foot-wide eyes the largest in the animal kingdom. Though recent photographs of both squids have enhanced research, Newquist emphasizes that there’s still much to discover about these and other deep-sea dwellers.

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