My take on…Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America
Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America
by Scott Francis
published by How
original publication: 2007
size: 3420KB (256 pages)
categories: encyclopedias; mythology and folklore; unexplained mysteries
simultaneous device licenses: six
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: yes
real page numbers: yes
“…my wife and I decided to take a leisurely drive around scenic Lake Leelanau … it was our vacation after all. We found a few interesting things: a swampy looking outlet of the lake near where the original sightings were described, a bowl of delicious white fish chowder at a local restaurant known as the Bluebird, a crazy looking old silo decorated as the tower of Rapunzel, and a very suspicious looking log. Did we ever find the monster? Well … that’s not really the point of Monster Spotting. It’s really about enjoying the search.”
Books about reports of unknown animals can go a lot of different ways. They can be scientific, skeptical, paranormal, personal investigations…being particularly interested in cryptozoology, I’ve enjoyed all the different approaches.
Monster Spotter’s Guide to North America is largely what is called a “seed catalog”. There are standardized questions (Characteristics, Size, Habitat, Appetite, and Precautions), and then a brief narrative and, typically, a cartoon-like illustration.
The book is divided into areas of the USA, and does cover Mexico and Canada.
The “creatures” include both ones that might possibly have a zoological explanation, and folklore animals, like the wampus cat. Each entry is categorized as
- Sasquatch and Hairy Monsters
- Flying Monsters
- Ocean, Lake and River Monsters
- Folklore Monsters
- UFO-Related Monsters
- Reptilian Humanoids
- Phantom Animals
While there is some humor in the book, the entries don’t really contain narratives…you won’t feel like you are experiencing one person’s report in it. That gives it somewhat of a sense of sameness throughout…I didn’t find it especially engaging.
The seed catalog part did have a lot of entries…I can see how this would be fun for someone getting into the subject (like a child) to find out about reports near them or where they are going.
Unfortunately, the format of the standardized questions didn’t reproduce well on my Kindle Fire. There was a lot of empty space in each of the cells of what was a small, single column table.
Interestingly, it was in the back of the book that it moved away from simple listings. There were two “case studies” which made it more personal (the author isn’t just an armchair enthusiast), and a nice little monster time line.
Don’t expect to find a lot of analysis or hypothesizing…this isn’t like reading Ivan Sanderson or Loren Coleman.
I think this sums up the attitude of the book pretty well:
“Of course, you can be scientific about it and wait for absolute, undeniable proof. But isn’t it more fun to believe in something? Do you really want to question the existence of the Santa Claus of the monster world? Bigfoot is real.”
That’s not to say that Francis is an advocate…it’s just that for the fun hobby of “monster spotting”, it doesn’t really matter if it’s an objective reality or not.
At $9.99, this is relatively expensive as a Kindle book, but I was able to read it as part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
I would say that the book would be a good one for a curious ten-year old. It was reasonably accurate, and not poorly proofread. It’s light, and the topic is intriguing. My life was changed by The Maybe Monsters by Gardner Soule, and I can see how this could have a similar effect. For people who are serious about the subject, it’s just going to be seen as too surface.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.