In this day and age, we grown up Monsterkids are now parents. Parenting in and of itself is a tough gig, and with 500 channels, but none of the classic programming we used to watch, it’s even harder. Trying to shield your kid from all the sex on TV and in ads is next to impossible. Through the magic of DVD and downloading, we can show them programs and films that we grew up with. Next to that, we can also find some of the great books we had as kids online, many of which are readily available. Many of the cartoons the kids watch today have references that we as adults get. This special series of “Monster Parent” articles will highlight some of the ways we as parents can help educate our kids on the cool stuff of the past so that they will get the jokes along with you, as well as introducing them to stuff they should know! Today I present a couple of the cool books I read as a youth and now share with my kids.
Many of these books are easy to find online. I just picked up one I used to have and somehow lost over the years called ‘How To Care For Your Monster’ by Norman Bridwell, famous for the ‘Clifford‘ series of Books. Norman both writes and draws his books, and has a pleasant, distinct style to his work. HTCFYM is clearly inspired by Famous Monsters magazine and Forry Ackerman’s puns, as this book is chock full of puns and witicisms. It runs you through on how to obtain a monster for a pet, and how to care for each one of them. All the classics are represented here: Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, The Wolfman, and the Mummy, and each one with great hilarity. While not really a “story book”, HTCFYM is more of a guide on what to do and is a fun read.
The companion book, ‘Monster Holidays‘, is one that I was able to keep from my childhood. In it, Norman takes us through the various holidays during a calendar year and how each monster would celebrate it. The classic monsters are back, and your holidays will never be the same after reading this!Again, the artwork is very simple, but illustrates far more than what is shown in the pictures. Both books are meant to be read on dreary, rainy afternoons before popping in a classic horror film on the DVD or watching Monster Movie Matinee on The Fright Channel. Kids will love them and they will be introduced to the classic monsters in a fun, non-scary way!
The third book that I used to get from the library all the time as a kid is called ‘Monsters Who’s Who‘. While not a great book, and somewhat dated, it is fun to read through the entries. This is more of an encyclopedia than a story book as well. Many of the famous film monsters are represented: all of the Universal classics with lengthy entries, The Fly, the Blob, King Kong and more. This book also contains entries on mythical creatures, and even some comic book heroes and villains. In a way, the comic book entries take away from the book causing it to fall short of its potential as a true resource for monsters. I almost get the impression that the author had a great idea, but didn’t know how to execute it properly and needed to pad it out with rather lame comic entries, and it really isn’t the all-encompassing book that the title would have you believe. Written in the mid-70s, the entries don’t have nearly the cool villains that comics have created since then.
However, ‘Monsters Who’s Who‘ is still a GREAT way to get kids interested in monsters ata very early age. The pictures are iconic and you can read an entry on say, “The Fly”, and then watch the film to go with it! The entries on mythical creatures will also spark their curiosity on this genre, leading them into the “Percy Jackson” series of books as they get older, which delves heavily into Greek Mythology in particular. Most of the movie and myth entries are stories kids should know anyway, and this is a great place to start.
Reading, as has been said, is fundamental, and is a good supplement to watching great classic horror films. I would love to take the above books and get them into a reprint of some kind. In my next article I hope to delve into the works of Daniel Cohen, who’s books always informed and scared me as a kid! If you have any suggestions on books that you want me to review or include in my list, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! And don’t forget to watch classic films on The Fright Channel at www.horrorhaven.com!