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. (index, glossary, large bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-13)