A warning to the faint of heart - monsters will be roaming through this week's column! They're a fairly benign crew of behemoths, though.
First, let's take a look at a new picture book from a bunch of Portland creatives. "Monsters Under Bridges" is a venture between writer Rachel Roellke Coddington and the collaborative illustration studio known as Jolby.
This lively monster almanac will give pause to anybody who has ever traveled across a bridge in the Pacific Northwest. It suggests that there could be freaky creatures lurking underneath.
The book catalogues monsters from Vancouver, B.C., to southern Oregon. Mind you, these are no garden-variety vampires or sasquatches: instead, there are the Weasloes, Klick and Tat, Grubbel, and the Ronoh.
Washington is represented by El Decepcion, an immense, turtle-like monster that resides between Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands.
This book claims that there is also an entire zoo's worth of monsters that shelter under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle, and use the famed Fremont Troll's VW as the portal into their underground world.
My personal favorite in this catalogue of crazy creatures is Irving the Noble Vegetarian, a furry, bounce house-sized fellow who resides at the mouth of the Columbia River. Back in the 1800s, he was rumored to keep busy by destroying fur trade ships in an effort to save his smaller furry friends. Nowadays he seems to have mellowed. He guards the Astoria-Megler Bridge that connects Washington and Oregon, and he prides himself on eating locally-sourced produce.
"Monsters Under Bridges" mixes real bridges and local history with lots of tongue-in-cheek whimsy - it is sheer fun!
And so is Suzanne Selfors' new book, "The Sasquatch Escape," which kicks off a new series by the prolific Bainbridge Island author. If this first book is any indication, The Imaginary Veterinary series will be a hit with middle-grade readers.
Ten-year-old Ben Silverstein has been sent to spend the summer with his grandpa in the drab town of Buttonville, while back home in southern California his parents "work out some troubles."
Ben is resigned to having a dull summer, but then his Grandpa's cat catches a little creature that is decidedly NOT a mouse - it has tiny wings, scales, and it breathes fire.
Ben doesn't want to give his grandpa a heart attack, so instead of telling him, he enlists the help of a local girl.
Pearl Petal has a reputation for getting into trouble - but it is her spunk that propels them to the only veterinarian's office around. Dr. Woo's Worm Hospital is housed in the abandoned button factory on the town's outskirts.
As it turns out, the "Worm Hospital" is just a front for a much more interesting operation - this is a hospital for all types of imaginary creatures, including the sasquatch that escapes when Ben fails to bolt the door behind himself. The story gets even more complicated from there.
"The Sasquatch Escape" will spark imaginations and inspire adventures. This is a delightful book!
Barbara Lloyd McMichael writes a weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at email@example.com