A Tuesday Ten: Cryptic Cryptids and Mythological Monsters
So up to now I’ve done a list of Winged Horses, Unicorns, Dragons, and Little Folk and Fairies—but there are other types of beasties out there, some that are considered Cryptids (these are creatures that some have speculated exist, but there’s no proof that they actually do), and some that are simply monsters from myth. I’ve focused on creatures that have some kind of urban legend or mythological status associated with them: so each of these is a creature you might have heard of before, if only in passing.
Centaur Rising by Jane Yolen (Henry Holt and Co. , Expected Publication October 2014)
Centaurs . . . part human, part horse. While they’re not a hugely popular creature in fiction, they do show up from time to time. Jane Yolen’s October release tells the story of an extraordinary birth at a rather ordinary horse farm. One little girl gets her wish for magic when their pony gives birth to a centaur boy. This magical small-town USA tale is sweet and powerful with just enough centaur mythology to intrigue a new generation about these creatures. It’s a historical fantasy set around the 1960s and reminds me a bit of The Winged Colt of Casa Mia by Betsy Byars.
The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors, illustrated by Dan Santat (Little, Brown Books, 2013)
The entire Imaginary Veterinary series is full of various critters, but the central character in this story is a Sasquatch on the lam. When the mysterious Worm Hospital on the edge of town proves to be more than it seems, Ben and Pearl wind up helping out the denizens of the imaginary veterinary. When carelessness leads to the stinky sasquatch getting loose and running through town, it’ll be up to both kids to stop it! The series continues with 3 more books so far, each one concerned with a specific cryptid or mythological monster. Humor and adventure roll into one in this series for reluctant readers.
Creature Keepers and the Hijacked Hydro-Hide by Peter Nelson & Rohitash Rao (Balzer and Bray, Expected Publication, September 2014)
In this story, the first in a new series, we are introduced to Jordan Grimsley, a boy who discovers that his crazy grandfather might not have been so crazy after all. It seems that Grandpa Grimsley was a member of a secret organization called the Creature Keepers–individuals who keep cryptids around the world safe and secure from discovery. Creatures like the Loch Ness Monster and the South Florida skunk ape. Hilarity and over-the top adventure plus a lot of just basic silliness.
The Boggart and the Monster by Susan Cooper (Margaret K. McElderry, c1997)
Emily and Jess are off on another Scottish adventure! Now they’re off to visit the famous lock where a mysterious sea monster is rumored to live. A certain shape-shifting boggart is going with them, and it’s going to be up to him to make sure Nessie stays a mystery! This is the second adventure for our boggart character, who first appears haunting a Scottish castle that Emily and Jess come to visit in The Boggart (1993). Nessie is one of the most popular cryptids to pop up in stories.
Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce (Random House Books, 1992)
While this particular series does not take place in our universe, it does reference quite a few legendary creatures. Griffons, nymphs, sylphs, krakens, etc. The premise of this particular quartet, The Immortals, is that these creatures have broken out from the Divine Realms where they have long been trapped. Now they are filtering back into the earthly realms and causing a fair share of havoc and speculation. Daine is able to talk to animals, including some of these creatures which makes her an important player in this setting.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Scholastic, 1997)
This reinvented Cinderella story is one of my favorites, as we have a very fiesty Ella whose cursed with obedience (causing her no end of problems). But this is also a land where we have centaurs and ogres. The centaurs, despite their human half, tend to remain animal like, while the ogres are tricky predators with golden tongues that bewitch those who hear them. It adds a lot of interesting detail into Ella’s story and turns this into something more than a simple domestic sort of fairytale.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling (Scholastic, c1999)
To be honest, the entire Harry Potter series has its share of legendary creatures, from Faust the phoenix, to the basilisk, to sea folk. But in this book the significant creature is the hippogriff pictured on the cover. Part horse, part eagle, Buckbeak winds up being a focal point in the story as our protagonists not only deal with deadly threats to Harry and try to uncover a spy, but to save Buckbeak from excecution after he attacks Draco. There are relatively few hippogriffs in fantasy fiction overall, so I thought it well worth noting.
The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet by Kevin Sherry (Scholastic Press, Expected Publication September 2014)
Haven’t read this one yet, but the description tells of how Blizz Richards, a yeti, is going around studying other cryptids around the world. When his sasquatch cousin goes missing, it’s up to Blizz and his friends to find him for the family reunion! This looks to be a lighthearted chapter book series tapping into the popularity of the topic and again making the cryptids all part of one group conspiracy to hide themselves from humans.
The Menagerie by Tui T. Sutherland and Kari Sutherland (HarperCollins, 2013)
What would you do if you found a griffon under your bed? When Logan finds a griffon under his bed, it’s only the beginning of his adventures! Zoe and her family have been guarding The Menagerie and keeping its secrets for generations, but now to protect the griffons and guard against whoever may be sabotaging the Menagerie, Zoe will need to enlist Logan’s help, and let him into a world full of wild secrets. This is the first book in The Menagerie series.
The Phoenix and the Carpet by E. Nesbit (Puffin, c1904)
In this sequel to Five Children and It, our characters are again on an adventure. A phoenix is born in their house and this vain and ancient bird of yore informs the children that they have a flying carpet in their house. As is to be expected (and fairly obvious from the picture) the children use the carpet to go off on a journey through time and space. The phoenix accompanies them on their travels.
So there you have it–this was a fairly easy list to compose, so I bet my readers can come up with other titles for me!
Posted on June 28, 2014, in General Posts, Lists and tagged Children's Books, Children's Literature, fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Lists, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, reviews, Science Fiction. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.