Author Topic: Tales of the Cryptids  (Read 2410 times)

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Tales of the Cryptids
« on: August 25, 2006, 04:00:33 AM »
Author Kelly Milner Halls likes "weird stuff." The Westlake High School graduate has found her niche writing nonfiction children's books about bizarre creatures-some that are supported by scientific evidence, and other legendary beasts that feed the imagination but continue to escape scientific scrutiny.

Hall's latest book, "Tales of the Cryptids, Mysterious Creatures that May or May Not Exist," explores the science and science fiction of these legendary creatures and allows the young reader to come to his or her own conclusion as to whether these fantastic creatures truly exist.

"I get paid to be weird," Halls said of her penchant for writing first about dinosaurs and now, cryptids.

The word "cryptozoology" means hidden animal life, and applies to some "common" mysterious creatures like Nessie and the Abominable Snowman. Halls' documentation of the science and legend of 50 such creatures includes facts about some extinct "monsters" and other odd creatures that may have been seen by many people, but have eluded capture-and scientific proof that they exist.

The Mongolian Death Worm supposedly lives in the sand dunes of the Gobi desert and kills its prey through electric shock or spitting poison.

Mothman was seen by 100 people in Point Pleasant, W.V. in 1966-67. The winged 6to 7-foottall screeching gray-brown creature has glowing red eyes and wings like a bat. Many people believe that Mothman may be of extraterrestrial origin.

Then there's eastern Kenya's Nandi Bear, which is reported to be part bear, part hyena.

"Tales of the Cryptids" is an investigation by Halls, illustrator Rick Spears and writer Roxyanne Young. Halls presents stories, eyewitness accounts, definitions, maps and sidebars on cryptid "tidbits" that entice the reader to use critical thinking skills to draw their own conclusions.

Halls has written 18 books. Some, like "I Bought a Baby Chicken," are stories for younger children, but she said she delights in writing about more unusual topics, having penned such tales as "Albino Animals," "Dinosaur Mummies," "Wild Dogs Past and Present" and the "Dinosaur Travel Guide."

Halls said she was inspired to write children's books and magazine articles after her marriage ended. Writing afforded the flexibility she needed to take care of her two daughters, and allowed her to explore the weird, the wacky and the wonderful stories of animals that once roamed Earth, along with creatures that may or may not still be lurking in forests, on mountain tops or in the depths of lakes or oceans.

"I like to write about things that make you go 'huh,'" Halls said. "When I was a kid I was a reluctant reader. I was a good reader, but I didn't like the books that were out there."

As for "Tales of the Cryptids," Halls said she expected to write about the legends of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Yeti and the like, but once she started to research the tales, she wasn't so sure that all the stories and eyewitness accounts could be dismissed as figments of overactive imaginations.

Halls interviewed leading cryptozoologists and scientists for the book, which she said is designed for children 10 and older. Included are comments from such researchers as Dr. Yvonne Simpson, a Scottish geneticist studying the possibility of an Orkney Islands' sea monster called the "Stronsay beast."

Explorer Scott T. Norman, president of CryptoSafari, is searching for the Mokelembembe, an elephant-sized African creature that resembles a sauropod, a "long-necked, plant-eating dinosaur that went extinct more than 65 million years ago," according to the "Tales" chapter "Mirrors of the Past: Prehistoric Cryptids."

Halls lives in Bigfoot country-Spokane, Wash. While she hasn't spotted a giant, hairy, smelly ape-like beast around her neck of the woods, if she does, the world will hear about it.

"Mine is the only look at the science of cryptozoology ever written expressly for young readers," Halls said.

"Tales of the Cryptids," published by Darby Creek Publishing of Ohio, will be in bookstores this fall.

source: The Agoura Hills Acorn (CA)