________________ CM . . . . Volume I Number VI . . . . July 21, 1995

 Why Were All the Werewolves Men?

Richard Stevenson. Illustrated by Gail Mikla
Saskatoon: Thistledown, 1994.
99pp, paper, $9.95
ISBN 1-895449-30-8.

Grade 3 - 8 / Ages 8 - 13.
Review by Harriet Zaidman


Yo! My man, homo s.
Come bend me an ear.
I gots me a song, babe,
you gotta hear.

Ain't gonna diss you,
Mister bipedal man.
Doan wanna kiss you
Nor bash you wid de pan.

Monsters have always captured the imagination of children. Vampires, werewoves, the Loch Ness Monster, and others are back in the limelight, partly due to recent movies, and partly due to the curiosity of the latest generation of kids. Death-bed revelations that Nessie was the creation of a gang of college pranksters haven't dampened people's imaginations, and the hunt continues for the "truth" behind the legends.

Richard Stevenson has fashioned rhyming poems using contemporary forms for children and adolescents in this appealing book, Why Were All the Werewolves Men? Stevenson writes about the "major monsters" as well as lesser known myths, such as the Cadborosaurus, Baal, the Mkodos of Madagascar, the Hodag, and others. The poems are bouncy, humorous and use words in a fun way that kids love, as in the excerpt above or:

Wherever the Whirling Whoompus moans
You'll see a trail of scattered bones
and measure death in megaohms.

The "Not Yeti Blues" is set to the turn of "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Aliens" is set in diamante form. Stevenson's characterizations and the illustrations are made to appeal to the 90s type of kid, and while a few of the rhymes are a little awkward (hey, it's a difficult subject) the poems flow with a little practice. They will evoke a positive response from children and young adolescents.

This book can be used to augment a poetry collection, but its best use would be a part of a whole language unit on monsters or the supernatural, or as part of a poetry unit. The humour and rhyme in these poems can provide older children and YAs the incentive to let their own imaginations go, and write their own poetry.

Stevenson includes an appendix which explains the history behind each of the monsters he writes about, and reveals the truth about the gender of werewolves. The appendix is written in a friendly style, adding to the book's appeal.


Harriet Zaidman is a Winnipeg teacher/librarian.

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

Copyright © 1998 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