[Monday Reading] A Collection of Creepy and Questionable Creatures

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Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts

Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.

I have also written a post about my thoughts on the Accelerated Reader Program.

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I am inviting fellow teachers, teacher educators, writers, librarians, authors, artists, parents, fellow book enthusiasts to share their own experiences and ideas about the AR program.

Does the Accelerated Reader Program help develop Lifelong Readers?

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I am pleased to find more ghost-related books from the library that I am excited to share with you today. And since I fell in love with New Orleans, I thought I might as well feature a sub-theme about Southern ghosts.

IMG_9116Questionable Creatures: A Bestiary

Text and Illustrations By: Pauline Baynes
Published by: Frances Lincoln Limited, 2006
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.

The entire premise of this book rests on a great deal of thorough and highly interesting research from published bestiaries particularly between 11th and 14th centuries when these types of books are said to flourish. What is fascinating is that these beautifully illustrated books created during the Middle Ages also contained a great deal of mythical (or questionable) creatures, the existence of which seemed to have been passed on as facts. The writers (mostly monks working in complete silence in the Scriptorium) also adopted a non-secular approach, giving the impression that all these species exist to glorify God and are there for humans’ benefit. Thus, it was considered fair game (no pun intended) to hunt down these animals/creatures either for food or for medicine for various illnesses.

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There are twenty creatures in all that are featured in this collection. Some are still familiar and may be seen in its natural habitat such as the lion, tiger, horse, camel, birds, hyena, elephant, crocodile, wolf, serpent, panther. The exquisite thing in this little booklet is they are joined by the manticore (as you can see above), mermaids or sirens, bonnacon, gryphon, unicorn, satyr, yale, the phoenix, and even the devil himself. 

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The selection of creatures was contingent on those that were commonly found in bestiaries. And while the description of a lion seems quite straightforward to us now, the book shares how people during the Medieval times thought about this powerful animal and what the lion’s significance is in bestiaries, as it is perceived as the King of the Beasts and the medieval symbol of Christ. Thus, they are redefined and imbued with mystical and healing properties, even, on occasion.

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I enjoyed reading about how people once regarded horse teeth as an aphrodisiac when crushed and sprinkled on the human body, or how mixing wine with horse urine or dung is better than any aspirin to cure one’s headache. Or how a tooth from the mouth of a live crocodile worn proudly as an amulet would find you a Saturday night date and improve your love life considerably. I remain fascinated though with the gryphon:

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For one, it reminds me of the Griffin and Sabine story, particularly the Morning Star Trilogy, and its mirage-like quality that just seems so mysterious and fantastical. This is definitely a book that would look great on anyone’s bookshelf, especially if you are deeply into magical, mystical, and marvellous creatures.

Mga Tambay sa Tabi-Tabi: Creatures of Philippine FolkloreIMG_8454

Written and Illustrated By: Ang INK (Ilustrador ng Kabataan)
Published byAnvil Publishing, Inc. 2009
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

There are 53 creatures gathered together on a magical leash, illustrated lavishly, and painstakingly described in this smorgasbord of creatures from Philippine folklore. Think of a modern bestiary filled with rich descriptions and gorgeous illustrations dripping with a developing country’s variegated realities. There is still a touch of the legendary and the taste of rural sensibilities while remaining so charmingly contemporary. I also enjoyed the fact that each creature is illustrated and described in verse and in prose by so many members of Ang INK. There is also a detailed English translation found in the narrative.

My only peeve about this book is that I would have preferred the presentation of these folklore creatures to be thematic rather than presented alphabetically. There are creatures that may be named differently but have similar characteristics, such as gigantic monsters named agta, kapre, gisurab, ani-ani; or self-segmenting creatures such as the aswang, borokamanananggal to name a few. My teacher-mode unwittingly teases out the similar strands and I weave them together in my mind, despite myself.

This book also showcases the pool of talents that exist in this small but growing organization of young illustrators from the Philippines. There are creatures that are already familiar to me such as the aswang (kind of like a monster, witch, shapeshifter put together),

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duwende (or dwarf),

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kapre (a giant creature who lives on trees and always has his signature tobacco/cigar, and is said to be capable of shifting into a big cat, a pig, carabao, or a dog),

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multo (a ghost),

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manananggal, a self-segmenting female creatures who split their bodies at the waist and transforms into a winged beast at night and perches on rooftops to gain access to unsuspecting victims and suck on their internal organs.

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there are also unfamiliar ones that I enjoyed getting to know in this book such as the mangmangkit, a spirit that swells in the trees in the forest – a dryad! I am also reminded a little bit of George RR Martin’s children of the forest.

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There is also the ebwa, a corpse snatcher. In the description, it says that this creature is the reason why a bereaved family constantly has a fire near their dead for nine days to ensure that the ebwa (who is afraid of the fire) would not be able to easily snatch the deceased.

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I was also fascinated by the wirwir, said to be a fixture in the cemetery as it is a hunter of the dead, quite similar to the ebwa. It eats corpses and digs up graves.

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These are only a few of the creatures that you’d get to know in this creepy book that celebrates ghouls and ghosts, spooks and spectres.

Currently Reading…

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I am ambitious. I am reading Holly Black’s Doll Bones and still hoping to feature it before our bimonthly theme ends.

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I have also been reading a lot of fabulous reviews about The Raven Boys. I’ve read the first few chapters and it looks really promising.

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A-Z Photo Challenge Update: 25 of 26

(QA, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, PR, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y Z)

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Read-a-Latte Challenge Update:  217 (150)

*** Video ads other readers may find at the bottom of this post are NOT endorsed by GatheringBooks but are randomly included by WordPress to maintain their site. ***

12 Comments on [Monday Reading] A Collection of Creepy and Questionable Creatures

  1. The Looking Glass Wars was a fascinating take on Alice in Wonderland. I’ve read all the books and even read the graphic novels. I have a feeling when I go to the Philippines I’ll end up looking for the books you’ve been featuring on your blog!

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  2. Enjoy Doll Bones and The Raven Boys! They’re both quite brilliant! Two bestiary type books, both look quite engrossing…

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  3. Wow these are some interesting picks! I think the only one that I heard about was Raven Boys but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

    Happy a great week!
    My Monday’s post!

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  4. Enjoy all your reads and have a good week.

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  5. Looks like some scary books! Have a great week!

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  6. I enjoyed The Raven Boys, although I’ve never read Doll Bones, looks interesting!

    Have an awesome week <3

    Here's our IMWAYR

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  7. Those bestiary books featured are fascinating, Myra. My connection is that so long ago, people were still engrossed in stories, although they presented them as truth, still loved the telling, too, in every place in the world! I loved The Raven Boys, & have the 2nd one, although not read it yet. Hope you enjoy it!

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  8. Doll Bones was pretty creepy…and thanks for the folk tales suggestions, Myra – I love having collections of these from all over the world – so interesting!

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  9. Great book suggestions here. I just read The Raven Boys a few weeks ago. I loved it. I finished it in a day and then immediately got the sequel Dream Thieves. I’m hoping to read more by that author soon.

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  10. Myra – thanks for your list! I love Raven Boys. Haven’t read Doll Bones but have heard great reviews. Enjoyed reading up on Philippine folklore – made me think of having my students create a set of trading cards with cultural folklore.

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  11. Cool! I love the illustrations in Mga Tambay sa Tabi-Tabi!

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  12. bluestockingthinking // November 1, 2013 at 7:58 pm // Reply

    I can’t wait to hear how you find Doll Bones and The Raven Boys-I adore them both!! I listened to The Raven Boys and the audio was so engrossing. I just book-talked Doll Bones to my 4th graders and they were very intrigued by it. Right now I’m reading Holly Black’s newest-what a difference from Doll Bones! She is a pretty dynamic writer.

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