________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 11 . . . . January 23, 2009

cover Mysteries of UFOs. (Unsolved!).

Kathryn Walker. Based on original text by Brian Innes.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4158-9 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4145-9 (RLB).

Subject Heading:
Unidentified flying objects-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Mary Thomas.

** /4

   
cover Mysteries of Water Monsters. (Unsolved!).

Kathryn Walker. Based on original text by Brian Innes.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4159-6 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4146-6 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Sea monsters-Juvenile literature.
Marine animals-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Mary Thomas.

** /4

   
cover Mysteries of Alien Visitors and Abductions. (Unsolved!).

Kathryn Walker. Based on original text by Brian Innes.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4154-1 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4141-1 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Alien abduction-Juvenile literature.
Human-alien encounters-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Mary Thomas.

** /4

   
cover Mysteries of Giant Humanlike Creatures. (Unsolved!).

Kathryn Walker. Based on original text by Brian Innes.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4156-5 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4143-5 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Yeti-Juvenile literature.
Sasquatch-Juvenile literature.
Wild men-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Mary Thomas.

** /4

   
cover Mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle. (Unsolved!).

Kathryn Walker. Based on original text by Brian Innes.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4157-2 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4144-2 (RLB).

Subject Heading:
Bermuda Triangle-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Mary Thomas.

** /4

   
cover The Mystery of the Ghosts of Flight 401. (Unsolved!).

Kathryn Walker. Based on original text by Brian Innes.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2009.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4155-8 (pbk.),
ISBN 978-0-7787-4142-8 (RLB).

Subject Headings:
Ghosts-Juvenile literature.
Aircraft accidents-Miscellanea-Juvenile literature.

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10.

Review by Mary Thomas.

** /4

excerpt:

For centuries, people have told tales of giant creatures from the sea. A sea monster named Leviathan is mentioned five times in the Bible. It is described as a "crooked serpent" and "the dragon that is in the sea."

Olaus Magnus lived in Sweden more than 450 years ago. He collected many stories about Leviathan. Magnus described the creature as black with a mane. It ate calves and lambs. It would even drag men from their boats.

Sailors from Norway told tales of the Kraken. This enormous sea monster was said to attack ships and eat the sailors. It was described as having huge tentacles. Many people today think that the Kraken may have been a giant squid. These creatures live in the deep sea and are known to grow up to 59 feet (18 m) long. (From Mysteries of Water Monsters.)

Everyone everywhere is fascinated by stories of UFOs, little green men from Mars, sightings of a yeti in the Himalayas, Nessie sticking her head out of the waters of her Scottish loch, and larger-than-life human footprints in the mud. Are they real? The footprints, at least, have had plaster casts taken of them, but were they fakes? Are the photos hoaxes? These are real-life mysteries, compelling, and just a bit scary, making them obvious material for a bunch of books aimed at the children who have outgrown their interest in dinosaurs, but who have not yet got into cars and skateboards.

     The volumes in the series are attractively produced, with lots of pictures and small blocks of simple text. Words which might be unfamiliar — a careful two per double-page spread — are printed bold-face and defined in boxes at the foot of the pages; all the words and definitions are also collected in a glossary at the back of the book. Stories of sightings are kept short but include names and dates which could be used for further research, and there is also a short bibliography in each volume. Notably, all the books cited were published in the year 2000 or later.

     These books deal with unsolved mysteries, and, after reading all of them, I can see why the mysteries have defied resolution. There is a singular lack of anything other than hearsay evidence for most of them! The text presents what evidence there is, for and against, pointing out which photographs have been proven to be false and which just might be real, or maybe not. This, in fact, opens a field of speculation for the reader: how might one construct such a fake oneself? In these days of digital cameras and computer manipulation of images, it would be so easy to do that it is not surprising that the most recent photographic evidence of these phenomena tends to be from the 1970s.

     Because there are so few hard facts to go on, the books rely heavily on pictures of "a plane like this one ... ", "the beautiful Lake Nahuel Huapi in Argentina" where may dwell Hahuelito, "a picture of Loch Ness at sunset" paired with "an artist's idea of what the Loch Ness monster looks like." These pictures and drawings add to the appearance of the books, as do the boxes where a small chunk of the text is reproduced in larger type with the heading "How strange...", but if one were being critical, they could mostly clumped together as "padding." In other words, there is not really enough material to make six books.

     The books are "based on original text by Brian Innes." I suspect they have been simplified to make them accessible to younger readers, but the result is that they are not very satisfying to anyone who is more critical. That being said, third and fourth grade boys will love them.

Recommended with reservations.

Mary Thomas works in an elementary school library in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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