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Myths & Monsters of Reston, Virginia:
The Phenomenal and Frightening Findings of Dr. Padraigin W. Thalmeus, PDS.
by Eric MacDicken & Kristina S. Alcorn
Complete Review from Amazon
Myths & Monsters of Reston, Virginia is a delightful book that offers some fright-lite to tickle the imagination of the young, cute, and cuddly crowd, as well as layers that will make the more astute reader smile and wonder. We explore the pages of a time-worn journal, discovered in a secret vault of the Reston library. The journal reveals the spooky encounters of a thirteen-day journey (ending on October 31) through the wilds of Northern Virginia in search of treasure the gold and jewels of Eight Thousand Cursed Souls. At first glance, the author (Dr. Padraigin W. Thalmeus, PDS) seems to be an Indiana-Jones-like character; however, there are some clues that suggest he may be an imposter it's not always easy to trust someone who has a PDS. Throughout the journey, we have strange encounters with such creatures as the Bollin Banshee, the Reckless Huntsman, the Tree-Hole Troll, Big-Toe, the Virginia Swampman, Zombie Cows, Aliens connected with Apple products, etc.
Side-by-side with each time-worn page of the journal is a playful telling of the research of our authors, who add historical background (facts and speculative facts) and attempt to shed some light on the supernatural encounters of Dr. PW Thalmeus by making connections to the history, landmarks, and legends of Reston as well as to other well-known myths and monsters. We learn, for instance, why Hunters Woods used to be called Haunter's Woods, and we learn of Dr. Seymour Keister's studies of naked Quakers, inhabitants in the pre-Reston days, and their ghostly remains occasionally spotted today by skinny dippers in Reston lakes.
With a little puzzling of your own, you might find, for instance, that the name of the banshee is eerily similar to the two beheaded wives of Henry VIII, and that the journal was coincidentally written in the same year that Washington Irving was creating Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. There is also an Activity Page that challenges readers to transfigure the natural phenomena, topography, and history of their own towns and neighborhoods by infusing them with some imagination and humor.
I applaud the writing, wit, and imagination of MacDicken and Alcorn. Add to that the wonderful illustration, and you'll find that the book is a joy for a wide audience children and adults alike. It is written in the vein of Washington Irving, Maurice Sendak, and JK Rowling capturing the joy of imagination and the spirit of high adventure. But before reading, you may want to recite this Scottish prayer:
From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
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Content, images, and illustrations © Eric MacDicken.
Photographs used with permission © Caroline Schor-MacDicken.