Pros: Interesting theories; good basic facts
Cons: I wonder if it's too basic and could have added a bit more information
Is there really a Loch Ness monster?
Are crop circles messages from aliens?
Is there life on other planets?
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
If a man said something in the woods, and there were no women present, would he still be wrong?
These mysteries and many more like it have baffled scientists over the years, who have spent years trying to find the answers. Perhaps there are some things that are so strange that they cannot be explained. The Can Science Solve? books explore some of these mysteries and see if logic and science can be applied to it. Author Chris Oxlade tackles The Mystery of Vampires and Werewolves hoping to use scientific explanations to dispel the supernatural myths behind these beings.
So what is a vampire? What is a werewolf? Oxlade starts off by prefacing the subject matters and its histories before applying science and logic to the equation. He takes a look at what these creatures are, the origins of the mythology, stories surrounding the topics, and how to identify those who might be a bloodsucker or a hairy beast.
Once he gets past these familiar attributes he then proceeds to apply some science based theories. While he may not be able to explain the theory on how mythical vampires and werewolves exist, he might have some explanations on how these stories might have started.
The rare disease erythropoietic porphyria caused those who went out ino the sun to have their lips and skin crack and bleed. In the Middle Ages, they were usually locked in a dark place during the day to reduce the bleeding and were let out at night. Sound familiar?
As for werewolves, brain poisoning is one theory that is thrown into the mix. In the Middle Ages, people suffered from dreamlike hallucinations that are thought to have been caused from eating damp grain. In that grain, there is a type of fungus growing on it that makes a chemical called lysergic acid diethylamide, or as we commonly refer it to as LSD. Now were there really werewolves or people who were just imagining it because of the hallucinatory drug? Even scarier is thinking about werewolves on acid (there's the next horror flick).
In the end, Oxlade lets the reader decide what is real or not. The Can Science Solve? series is aimed towards young children from ages 8 and up. The information is presented in a way that isn't overpowering and confusing for kids. It's not deep, philospophical prosebut it does have some interesting facts and theories enough to entice a child's imagination and make them think about the subject. Many pictures are referenced to give some visual stimulation. Some words throughout the book are highlighted in bold. The meaning of these words can be found in the glossary showcased at the end of the book.
The Mystery of Vampires and Werewolves doesn't delve too deeply into the subject matters as it just gives a basic overview. However, I can see how it would jumpstart childrens' curiosity and questioning. This isn't a bad series at all and makes me curious to check out the other books in this collection.
Format: Paperback, 32pp
Pub. Date: January 2008
This is part of laurashrti's 2009 National Library Week Write-Off.