Monster Science series, vols. 1 & 2

mummy soundCapstone’s Monster Science series takes scientific principles and uses various classic monsters to explain and illustrate them in graphic format. Each book ends with additional information, including a glossary, several suggested books for further reading, and three questions relating the information to the Common Core standards. There’s also a link to Capstone’s website (www.facthound.com) and a brief index.

Mummies and Sound uses a cast of hoary, tattered mummies to illustrate the principles of sound. As they wander about their pyramids and then test out the modern world from television to earphones, the narration explains what sound is and how it works. How sound is measured, what natural principles it follows, and how you can experiment with it (even if you’re not an ancient mummy) are all covered in detail (with extra wrappings). How we hear and make sounds is included as well, although they had to borrow a few human ears to help out. Mallea’s art has a grainy, tattered look, well-suited to the illustration of mummies. Some of the illustrations, especially those of the human ear, are a little too caricatured to be clear, but most of the pictures of mummies testing out the science of sound are both funny and explain the text satisfactorily.

Frankenstein’s Monster and Scientific Methods makes Frankenstein’s monster curious. He has many, many questions and decides to test out one of them—why is his lucky bamboo plant dying?—with the scientific method (and some help from his friend Igor). The monster walks us through the scientific method: asking the right kinds of questions, testing the hypothesis, variables, presenting your findings, and more. He tries some other experiments along the way, such as building a lady monster, as well as figuring out why the leaves on his lucky bamboo are turning yellow. There’s quite a bit of text in this book and, unlike Mummies and Sound, it has more of a lecture feel to it, which gets dry fast. Aon’s art is colorful, but the gags are few and far between and mostly depend on the monster cliches rather than being genuinely funny. It’s confusing to switch from the main bamboo experiment to something else, like building another monster, which is never followed up. The heavy green and blue hues of the art make many panels murky and the action indistinct, which leaves chunks of text against a background with little action in the illustration to break them up.

Teachers trying to spice up their science classes will welcome these books. The scientific information is clear and accurate, and the graphics aspect adds a fun note that will draw in reluctant readers and those who would rather read about monsters than the proper way to conduct an experiment. However, unless you have a lot of homework help requests or a large homeschooling population that wants science resources, these are not likely to circulate well in a public library. The monster aspect seems fun at first, but doesn’t hold up, especially in Frankenstein’s Monster and Scientific Methods. If you’re looking for titles that will combine science, a storyline that will grab reluctant readers, and comics, I recommend Lerner’s Summer Science Camp Mysteries by Lynda Beauregard.

Mummies and Sound 
by Anthony Wacholtz
Art by Cristian Mallea
ISBN: 9781429699303
Capstone, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 8-14

Frankenstein’s Monster and Scientific Methods
by Christopher L. Harbo
Art by Carlos Aon
ISBN: 9781620658161
Capstone, 2013
Publisher Age Rating: 8-14