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Archive for Sunday, October 31, 2004

Halloween book bag brimming over with tricks and treats

October 31, 2004

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Who knows what might pop up on Halloween: ghouls and ghosts, witches and werewolves, boogeymen and -- books?

Sure, books!

Popping up recently are a number of volumes -- one of which literally does pop up -- that fit the mood for haunted Halloween reading with the lights turned up and the shades pulled down.

The scenes in Stephen King's "The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon: A Pop-Up Book" (Little Simon, $24.95) virtually leap off the page. This adaptation of King's scary young-adult novel features 18 colorful pop-ups that follow 9-year-old Trisha, who is lost in the woods where an evil presence lurks.

Trisha has her portable radio and finds comfort in listening to broadcasts of Boston Red Sox games, especially the exploits of her hero, relief pitcher Tom Gordon. As the days pass, Trisha imagines that Gordon is with her and he will save her from the unseen creature whose presence is evident in the destruction to flora and fauna in the woods.

Leaping from one two-page spread is a forest of trees that nearly obscure our little heroine as she makes her way along the trail. The cab of an abandoned red truck pops up just in time to provide shelter for Trisha when a violent thunderstorm strikes. And finally, seemingly out of nowhere, the monster emerges, nostrils flaring, eyes ablaze, its claws and teeth razor-sharp and ready.

The question is: Will Gordon pop up and register another save?

Monster ID

If a monster pops up in your path, you'll want to know how to identify it and protect yourself from it, right? Such help is at hand in "A Field Guide to Monsters" (Hylas, $19.95) by Dave Elliott.

This compact, colorful paperback is a catalog of creepy creatures that educates readers about the lifestyle, behavior, habits, habitats, strengths and weaknesses of well-known monsters.

The book separates its subjects into categories, including manufactured monsters, supernatural monsters, monsters from the beyond, and those ever-popular mutated vegetables.

Readers can bone up on Mr. Glass and the Invisible Man, Killer Tomatoes and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Dracula's daughter and Grandpa Munster, and the 50-foot Woman and the Incredible Shrinking Man. One monster, a native of Detroit, gets around on four wheels: It's Christine, a 1958 Plymouth that's red with a mean streak.

There are sections on how to classify monsters, where to find them (that is, places to avoid), how to protect yourself from them, and FAQ ("Which is best for a stake, silver or wood?")

For those wondering how their favorite monsters measure up, there's a height comparison chart, ranging from barely measurable killer ants to Godzilla, who can peer into the top-floor windows of a 20-story building without standing on his tiptoes.

Scary art

The next-best thing to watching a horror movie on Halloween might be browsing through "Horror Poster Art" (Aurum Press, $29.95).

In this large-format paperback, editors Tony Nourmand and Graham Marsh have reproduced in color more than 100 posters from horror films throughout eight decades.

Films range from the silent classic "Nosferatu" (1922) to 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" and other recent offerings. Posters display films from several countries, including the United States, England, Japan, Italy, Germany and Czechoslovakia.

Represented are some of the genre's best-known stars -- Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Peter Lorre, Vincent Price -- and characters ranging from aliens to zombies.

There are "Frankenstein" and "Dracula," mummies and werewolves, "Gremlins" and "Freaks," "The Unknown" and "The Uninvited," haunted houses and, of course, "Halloween."

And don't forget "The Tingler," Price's 1959 film in which theater audiences got a mild electric shock at appropriate points in the movie through specially wired seats.

Very superstitious

It should come as no shock that 13 is widely considered unlucky. Find out why in "13: The Story of the World's Most Popular Superstition" (Thunder's Mouth Press, $22.54).

In 13 chapters accompanied by 13 pages of illustrations, Nathaniel Lachenmeyer examines the history and psychology behind the superstition in the United States and around the world.

The book traces the origin of "unlucky" Friday the 13th to an obscure novel; takes readers to the Thirteen Club, an influential 19th-century social organization dedicated to erasing the "13" superstition; and examines the future of triskaidekaphobia (fear of 13) and the recent rise of triskaidekaphilia (the belief that 13 is, indeed, lucky).

The book's unusual price of $22.54 seems less odd when its four digits are added together.

Getting academic

History, Halloween-style, unfolds in "Magic and Witchcraft: From Shamanism to the Technopagans" (Thames & Hudson, $22.50).

In this large-format paperback, Nevill Drury traces the history of Western magical thought and philosophy, from antiquity to today.

Topics include magic in ancient and medieval times, the Kabbalah, alchemy, astrology, the Tarot, Wicca, Freemasons, Rosicrucians, contemporary Satanism and computer-age magic.

Also explained are the tools of witchcraft, symbols of ritual magic, the interpretation of Tarot cards, and the eight sections of the Wiccan Wheel of the Year.

Accompanying the text are 205 illustrations, 61 in color, that include photos, artwork and artifacts.

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