Mini-Review: “Wakulla Springs,” Andy Duncan & Ellen Klages (2013)

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Not What I Expected!

four out of five stars

It’s said that the Wakulla Springs wilderness – including the fifteen miles of caves which cuts through the water’s depths – is home to a menagerie of creatures, both real and mythical: black panthers, rhesus macaques, the Clearwater Monster, the Skunk Ape, and a thousand-pound hammerhead known as Old Hitler. Yet “Wakulla Springs” is less a tale about monsters than it is the journey of one family (and, by extension, the evolution of social mores and attitudes). Beginning with matriarch Mayola, the story of the Williamses is inexorably linked to the Springs: by culture, tradition, and superstition – and a series of cheesy Tarzan movies shot on location in Wakulla County, Florida.

The plot’s surprisingly sparse, especially given the story’s length and description. (“Wakulla Springs” reads more like a novella than a short story.) Each of the four parts or chapters focuses on a different member of the Williams clan, and his or her experiences with Wakulla Springs and the exclusive, “whites only” resort situated on its banks. Cultural signposts indicate each segment’s particular timeline; while African-American Mayola tries to pursue her education in the Jim Crow south, by story’s end we meet her granddaughter, Dr. Anna Williams – a multiracial woman of African-American, white, and Cuban descent – visiting Wakulla Springs during sabbatical to study the encroachment of invasive species into the area.

It makes for an enjoyable and engaging read, even if most of the “monsters” we meet are of the human and institutional variety.

P.S.: Free Cheetah!

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Comments (May contain spoilers!)

Diversity: Yes! The protagonists are pulled from several generations of the Williams clan, all of whom are connected to Wakulla Springs and the “whites only” resort located on its banks: African-American Mayola tries to pursue her education in the Jim Crow south, and by story’s end we meet her granddaughter, Dr. Anna Williams – a multiracial woman of African-American, white, and Cuban descent – visiting Wakulla Springs during sabbatical to study the encroachment of invasive species into the area.

 

Book Review: Monsters A to Z, A.J. Cosmo (2012)

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

A is for Adorkable

four out of five stars

Ever wonder where your house keys and cell phone disappeared to? A Jingrel might just be to blame! Or how about that elusive television remote control? If it’s always vanishing on you, your house might be home to a Me-Me.

Beautifully illustrated, with imaginative and entertaining entries, Monsters A to Z is a guide to the lesser-known monsters, from Aargmonths to Zoots and everyone in between. These monsters range from the gentle and pure of heart (Dock Divers, who abhor litter) to the troublesome and truly nefarious (the mac and cheese-stealing Brusselsnatches; these baddies will stone you with your own vegetables if you’re not careful). There are bipeds and quadrupeds; monsters with only two limbs, and monsters with up to eight; beaked creatures, flying creatures, and creatures with unicorn horns; fluffy little buggers who resemble Tribbles; masters of disguise; and even aquatic monsters who live under the sea.

More adorable than scary, most of the monsters found here are masters of everyday mischief and mayhem. The artwork is suitable for kids of all ages, with nothing too gross or terrifying; and, while some reviewers noted that the language is too sophisticated for younger readers, I didn’t get that impression at all. Then again, I don’t have any kids, so grain of salt.

As far as language goes, I wish Cosmo had opted to use the personal pronouns he/she in place of it, which is objectifying to presumably sentient animals. These monsters are someones, not somethings, yo!

This full-color book is best viewed on a laptop, PC, or iPad, but is also easily readable on a Kindle.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

Truth in Advertising: HUMANS ARE AMONG US!

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

This series of retro ’50s monster movie poster adverts for the SciFi Channel has little to do with animal advocacy – but why let a lil’ thing like that stop me from putting an animal-friendly spin on ’em?

Each “poster” depicts an iconic movie monster recoiling in horror as a human invades his space:

Sci Fi Channel - The Thing

(More below the fold…)