Mythical Beings and Mesmerizing Mysteries | Myths & Legends Series Nonfiction

Gripping, scientific, out-of-this-world stories of mythical creatures and mysterious circumstances await readers this fall.

Once summer ends, we’re assured autumn will bring cool breezes and gorgeous colors to the landscape. More importantly, now is the time when publishers issue compelling new series covering favorite topics for readers to pore over. Among those are series revealing exciting adventures about mythological beings and creatures who may or may not exist beyond the printed page. Regardless, these beings so captivate students’ imaginations, they can’t help but want to read more—which is exactly why publishers continue to release fascinating series about creatures that never fail to stimulate young readers’ curiosity. Gripping, scientific, incredible, literally out-of-this-world—and, oh, yes, very haunting—mysteries await students this fall, too. As autumn leaves turn, so will book pages!



Carlson-Berne, Emma. Ghost Hunters.ISBN 9781728491158.
––––. Haunted History.ISBN 9781728491172.
––––. Mummies Around the World.ISBN 9781728491196.
Katz, Susan B. Famous Ghosts.ISBN 9781728491141.
––––. Haunted Dolls.ISBN 9781728491165.
––––. Haunted Places.ISBN 9781728491189.
ea vol: 24p. (Lightning Bolt—That’s Scary!). Lerner. Aug. 2023. Tr $29.32.
Gr 1–5–Each topic in this fascinating, fast-paced series has sure-fire reading and visual appeal and is guaranteed to keep kids turning pages. Volumes are brief, with three to five chapters, and only two or three sentences per page, but the books’ brevity easily establishes a sense of creepy atmosphere. The well-written texts are terse and snappy, heightening tension and guaranteeing smooth, exciting reading. The sharp writing is also surprisingly sophisticated for this younger audience, yet they’re perfectly attuned to the abilities and sensibilities of middle graders and striving readers; note the mummy title is slightly gory. Texts are sometimes delivered in present tense, making the breathless entries feel immediate and compelling. The set includes enticing, sometimes eerie, close-up color and b/w photos bearing informative captions, themselves enclosed within “framed” colored boxes. Enhancing the volumes’ visual attractiveness is large, eyesight-friendly type, set in black or white against colored-background pages, and colored “chapter headings.” Occasionally, different-color fonts appear on the same page. The back matter in each title includes: a “Fun Facts” page plus an additional page of facts, both related to a volume’s specific topic; a glossary (no pronunciation guides); “Learn More” (a list of books and websites); and an index. VERDICT Informative, captivating, and entertaining, with tremendous appeal for students. Highly recommended for school and public collections.


Upper Elementary to Middle School

Cocca, Lisa Colozza, Tim Cassidy & John Perritano. Graphic Ghost Stories. ISBN 9781642828252.
DeMolay, Jack. Graphic Creatures.ISBN 9781642828221.
––––. Graphic Mysteries.ISBN 9781642828313.
Roberts, Steven. Graphic Monsters.ISBN 9781642828283.
ea vol: 72p. (Jr. Graphic Tales of the Unexplained). Rosen/PowerKids. Aug. 2023. Tr $36.80.
Gr 4–6–Students diving into this series will discover exciting, thought-provoking tales. Here readers will find accounts of ghosts and hauntings; mysteries not yet fully solved; and creatures that, even after having undergone intense scientific scrutiny, still haven’t been officially declared genuine. Each story opens with a brief introduction and cast of characters, all of whom are real except for those featured in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Some titles feature a “More” follow-up page with additional facts about the unexplained incidents or creatures, i.e., hauntings and monsters, respectively. Others have reports of not-as-yet-fully explained phenomena and creatures, including the Loch Ness Monster, the Bermuda Triangle, and more. Each account is followed by a “Did You Know?” page with more information. The well-drawn, uncomplicated panels are easy to follow, enabling fast-paced reading; the graphics include crisp lines and sharp colors and evoke settings well. Back matter in all volumes include a glossary (no pronunciation guides), further resources, and an index. VERDICT This set will appeal to a broad audience, including striving readers, because of its mix of very high-interest topics. Graphic Monsters may have especially wide appeal due to its gory subject matter. Recommended where graphic titles are in demand in school and public libraries.

Lukidis, Lydia. Frigg vs. Aphrodite.ISBN 9781669016267.
––––. Hades vs. Anubis.ISBN 9781669016342.
––––. Hel vs. Persephone.ISBN 9781669016427.
––––. Odin vs. Ares.ISBN 9781669016502.
ea vol: 32p. (Mythology Matchups). Capstone. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.32.
Gr 4–7–Mythology fans who fancy the idea of mythological heroes facing off against each other will be intrigued by this well- written, stimulating series. The set pits pairs of legendary combatants from diverse mythological traditions against each other, though not necessarily physically or on battlefields. Each fact-packed title includes five chapters written with lively, terse sentences that ensure smooth reading and heighten reader interest. New vocabulary is boldfaced and defined in the glossary; the deities’ names and other words from the languages of the myths’ origins are also defined. From the outset, each book compares the gods’/goddesses’ dominions, abilities, personalities, etc., to excite readers about who’s more powerful and, thus, who might “come out on top.” Deities’ weaknesses are also mentioned. Volumes cite the heroes’ origins, include snippets of stories in which they figure, and discuss their similarities. Media representation is noted. Artwork includes statuary and captioned black-and-white and color illustrations; sidebars present additional facts. An excellent sum-up feature is included in each volume, which provides a final comparison of each opponent’s strengths, weaknesses, appearances, weapons, powers, etc. VERDICT Students will learn about and compare different cultures’ mythologies, understand myths are universal, and recognize different cultures value similar human traits. A fascinating series recommended for school and public libraries.

Mather, Charis. Earth Myths.ISBN 9798888220030.
––––. People Myths.ISBN 9798888220016.
Nelson, Louise. Space Myths.ISBN 9798888220023.
Twiddy, Robin. Animal Myths.ISBN 9798888220009.
ea vol: 32p. (Totally Not True!). Bearport. Aug. 2023. Tr $29.95.
Gr 4–6–This fact-packed, accessible series shows students scientific truth debunks false ideas and misinformation. Each volume opens with a “Welcome to TNT” message and explains the scientific method step-by-step. Pages resemble cork boards; throughout, text and captioned photo “evidence” that prove or disprove various myths appear on “tacked” or “taped” Post-its. Each volume debunks six assorted “totally not true“ ideas. It does so by first setting out two pages of “false evidence” for each myth, alongside pictures that seem to support the misleading belief. The text is pithy and to the point. Following each myth and its “supportive explanations,” two more pages with their own text and photo evidence “explode” the falsehood, presenting the truth and answering skeptics clearly and accessibly. The volume about animals is chiefly about cryptids, though other myths are included. A final section in each volume is “Truth or TNT?” or a similarly named pictorial wrap-up of alleged theme-related phenomena, which all turn out to be true. New vocabulary is defined in a glossary (no pronunciation guides). Besides glossaries, back matter includes an index; Read More (a short bibliography); Learn More Online (a link to the publisher’s website or QR code, and a direction to click each volume’s cover for a list of websites). VERDICTDemystifying, eye-opening, entertaining fun. Recommended for schools and public libraries.

Peterson, Megan Cooley. Searching for Aliens with Tech.ISBN 9781669049814.
––––. Spotting UFOs with Tech.ISBN 9781669049692.
Respicio, Mae. Ghost Hunting with Tech.ISBN 9781669049630.
––––. Tracking Cryptids with Tech.ISBN 9781669049753.
ea vol: 32p. (Paranormal Tech). Capstone. Aug. 2023. Tr $31.32.
Gr 4–6–Science- and technology-minded students will welcome this well-written, fact-filled series showcasing researchers using actual technological tools to investigate the paranormal. Easy-to-understand prose makes most of the technical language comprehensible. Some readers may find the text a bit tricky, as not all concepts are explained. However, strivers should find the series a generally comfortable read overall, with only two-to-four sentences per page. The volumes describe what proof tech devices have already found or continue to search for. Interestingly, in the UFO and cryptid volumes, it’s noted that “everyday technology” such as cameras and computers are also used. Current technological advances in all these investigations are cited. The series is handsomely designed, with provocative, high-quality color photos of technological wizardry, usually featuring captions. There are many photos of actual tech items, including Mars rovers, ghost-detecting gadgets, telescopes, lasers, radar screens, and sonar images. Sidebars provide additional facts. Besides glossaries, the back matter in each title includes a bibliography, a brief list of internet sites, and an index. VERDICT Recommended, especially for mature, science-/tech-minded students in school and public libraries.

CONLEY, Kate. Loki.ISBN 9781098291204.
––––. Odin.ISBN 9781098291211.
HUDAK, Heather C. Thor.ISBN 9781098291228.
––––. Valkyries.ISBN 9781098291235.
Rea, Amy C. Dragons of Norse Mythology.ISBN 9781098291167.
––––. Fenrir.ISBN 9781098291174.
––––. Freya.ISBN 9781098291181.
––––. Frigg.ISBN 9781098291198.
ea vol: 32p. (Norse Mythology). Abdo/Kids Core. Sept. 2023. Tr $34.22.
Gr 4–6–Each title in this set includes three brief chapters about major heroes. The writing is simple and conversational. Strivers will appreciate the series, though some tales are overly complicated, feature too many characters, and include personal or place names that may be difficult to pronounce. Each volume includes history, deities’ origins, and creation stories. Media representation is noted. The series is visually attractive, with captioned illustrations that occasionally include statues, carvings, and jewels; labeled charts and diagrams are used where applicable. Useful information is included in sidebars. The series emphasizes research skills: each chapter concludes with a “Further Evidence” or “Explore Online” box containing a link to the publisher’s website. Students can access it for evidence supporting or enhancing chapter information. At or near each book’s conclusion, a challenging “Primary Source” feature, containing a quote from a cited scholarly document about the volume’s subject, requires students to determine the quote’s main idea or decide whether it supports the chapter’s facts. Unfortunately, this “textbooky” aspect diminishes the pleasure of reading for fun. Back matter includes a pictorial sum-up; glossary; online resources, offering teacher/student access to activities, multimedia, and book links through the publisher’s websites or QR codes; a bibliography; and an index. VERDICT The stories are informative, especially for those unfamiliar with the Norse pantheon, but the writing is mediocre overall. Recommended where needed in schools.

Redshaw, Hermione. The Attack of the Aliens.ISBN 9798888220153.
––––. The Invasion of the Vampires.ISBN 9798888220139.
––––. The Night of the Zombies.ISBN 9798888220146.
––––. The Rise of the Mummies.ISBN 9798888220122.
ea vol: 32p. (Supernatural Survivor). Bearport/Roar! Aug. 2023. Tr $29.95.
Gr 3–6–This tongue-in-cheek, guidebook-like series is geared to those seeking escape from marauding invaders. It delivers text in short bursts within “taped” boxes set against photos on colored background pages. The prose is a tantalizing mix of true-fact snippets and the untrue, advancing the provocative suggestion these supernatural beings are real and planting suspicions in readers’ minds they’ve lived among humans for years. Each volume includes pieces of comically impractical advice, delivered with a straight face. All titles are thought-provoking, suggest problem-solving skills are important, and end on a positive note. New vocabulary is boldfaced and defined in a glossary in each volume (no pronunciation guides); occasionally, pronunciation help is provided within texts as needed. Stimulating, edgy photos of the creatures heighten suspense; some are gory. Besides glossaries, volumes include an index; Read More (a short bibliography); Learn More Online (students are directed to a link and a topic-specific search term or told to scan a QR code). VERDICT An appealing, humorous, entertaining (though somewhat creepy) series about perpetually fascinating topics. Recommended for school libraries.


Upper Middle School to High School

Havemeyer, Janie. The Loch Ness Monster.ISBN 9781678206321.
Kaiser, Emma. Bigfoot.ISBN 9781678206246.
––––. Zombies and the Undead.ISBN 9781678206406.
LaPierre, Yvette. The Bermuda Triangle.ISBN 9781678206222.
Li Bi, Selina. UFOs.ISBN 9781678206345.
Mooney, Carla. ESP.ISBN 9781678206260.
––––. Ghost Sightings.ISBN 9781678206284.
––––. Hauntings.ISBN 9781678206307.
Poehlmann, Tristan. Unicorns.ISBN 9781678206369.
––––. Witches.ISBN 9781678206383.
ea vol: 64p. (Are They Real?). Reference Point/BrightPoint. Sept. 2023. Tr $32.95.
Gr 6 Up–Here’s an intelligent, well-organized series that works for older students and hi-lo readers alike. Volumes explore the fascinating origins of phenomena and creatures, i.e., the stories, folklore, culture, spiritual beliefs, etc., that might have “primed” societies to believe they existed. Each four-chapter volume opens a snappy, bulleted list of facts about the topic that will be elaborated upon later in the chapter. This precedes an anecdote about a real person’s dramatic experience with the phenomenon/creature that’s intended to arouse readers’ attention. Well-written texts, delivered with short, easy-to-follow sentences, clearly lay out “evidence” about their subjects. Topics are presented squarely, intelligently, and with surprising sophistication. Topics are treated with balance: Where there’s no evidence, a book says so but also mentions that some people still believe the phenomenon/creature is real and continue to hunt for supporting evidence with scientific tools. Notably, readers aren’t talked down to; their intelligence and interest in the subjects are respected. Atmospheric, captioned color and black-and-white photos, illustrations, and occasional paintings enhance the set’s noteworthiness; captioned/labeled maps and charts/diagrams are included where needed. Sidebars provide additional facts and commentary. Back matter features: glossary (no pronunciation guides); source notes; For further research (books, internet sources, websites); index. VERDICT These topics have plenty of audience appeal, and this series is very thoughtfully presented. Highly recommended for schools and public libraries.

Jeffrey, Gary Rob Shone. Defying Death: True Tales of Survival. ISBN 9781499475173.
––––. Under Your Skin: True Tales of Forensic Science.illus. by David West. ISBN 9781499475203.
ea vol: 112p. (Graphic Short Stories). Rosen. Aug. 2023. Tr $39.80.
Gr 6–9–Students who savor harrowing tales will appreciate this tense, well-written collection. In the first title, stories set in different historical periods tell terrifying accounts of survival under impossible-to-imagine situations. Readers will be amazed survivors overcame incredibly desperate, sometimes quite gory, circumstances and marvel they emerged victorious. The second book focuses on true-crime tales, also from varied periods in time, and emphasize police procedure and crime detection. These tales are graphic in more ways than one, yet deliver interesting scientific information and will especially appeal to budding criminologists, forensic pathologists, and scene-of-crime officers. Some racial and ethnic diversity is represented; women are shown involved in investigations—and also as criminals. Stories in both volumes open with brief descriptions of leading characters, dates, and places; new vocabulary is boldfaced and defined in glossaries. The writing is terse and clipped. The tales are essentially told through characters and dialogue, which arouses empathy and heightens suspense. Graphic panels are easy to navigate, enabling readers to focus on the action; the artwork is crisp, with easy-to-distinguish details, and clearly evokes characters’ expressions. Each volume’s back matter includes a glossary (no pronunciation guides), further resources, and an index. VERDICT These spellbinding tales are not for the squeamish, as some are quite gruesome, but they’ll hopefully arouse sympathy, too. Recommended for school and public collections where graphic stories are popular.


ReferencePoint’s “Are They Real?” series raises tantalizing questions for upper-graders and hi-lo readers to ponder about perennially popular topics, including UFOs, hauntings, ESP, well-known cryptids, and more. “Mythology Matchups” (Capstone) is a snappy, well-done series for readers who’ve imagined what might happen if mythological heroes such as Odin and Ares ever duked it out, figuratively speaking. Middle grade fans of ghosts and mummies won’t be able to put down the literally haunting, fast-paced “That’s Scary!” series (Lerner). Science meets myths—and wins every time—in the fascinating “Totally Not True!” (Bearport) series for middle graders that debunks the unreal by bringing solid text and photographic evidence to bear against naysayers.



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