Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Here There Be Monsters by HP Newquist

[Show Slide Show-pics from book and other sources]

In his poem, the Kraken, Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote:[pic1]

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep,
The Kraken sleepeth:

Kraken! Were they just creatures conjured up in tales told by ancient mariners or would there be monsters hidden in the murky ocean depths from our reach even today? [pic1]

"Kraken!" a sailor screams. Perhaps you remember this scene from the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: [video 1]

The Kraken, or as you may have guessed, the giant squid [pic3], has been one of the most mysterious and feared creatures of the deep. Scientists have been in a search for the concealed giant for hundreds of years, but only recently have they seen one alive. Most amazing to me is how little evidence scientists have collected so far about this reclusive cephalopod. Here’s how the author of the book, Here There be Monsters, puts it: [pic4]

“Humans have been to the moon six times and retrieved more than two thousand rocks. The moon is 250,000 miles away from earth. Yet scientists have collected only about two dozen specimens of the colossal squid, a creature that lives less than one mile under the ocean. It is odd that we have more specimens from a place that is a quarter of a million miles away than we do of one of the biggest creatures on the earth, even though it lives right here in our oceans.” (p.47)

Believe it or not, the first picture of a live giant squid was taken only five years ago. [pic5] Before the 2005 picture, giant squid were only observed as dead specimens that washed ashore about every 50-100 years. Scientists were lucky to get even one specimen to investigate in a lifetime. The belly of a whale, in the meantime, provided key information for scientists to continue their study. For example, the mouths of giant squid, which look like giant bird beaks, have been found undigested in the stomachs of sperm whales for years.[pic6] The skin of a sperm whale often shows battle scars from their encounters with the kraken. [pic7] The intensity of the struggle is clearly displayed in this image. Notice the scars from the razor sharp suckers of the squid’s tentacles.

If you take another look at a sperm whale’s skin you’ll also notice gashes that are longer and straighter. [pic9] Can you fathom a creature that could lash a sperm whale like this? The clandestine creature that scored these marks into the skin of a sperm whale was photographed and filmed for the first time just two years ago. Could these marks suggest a different species of squid, one even larger and more lethal than the giant squid?


Consider yourself invited to one of the greatest mysteries of the natural world. [pic 9] Stare down the eye of the legendary kraken in the book, Here There be Monsters, by HP Newquist, if you dare.

You might also like the graphic novel, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and, Tentacles by Roland Smith:

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