Monday, March 23, 2009


by Ethan Johnson and Thad Tichenor
Illustrated by Thad Tichenor

This may be the most important book you’ll ever read, not because it has facts about American history or lots of fancy words, but because it could save your life. Here’s how: The Monster Guide explains what to do if you run into a witch tonight after dinner, or a gremlin tomorrow at the park.

We’ve organized this book alphabetically. That means aliens are at the beginning and zombies are at the end. So the next time you’re being chased by a mummy, you’ll know where to look before he gets his hands on you.

If you’re not certain which monster is after you, just flip through the drawings in the book. It’s a good idea to study them, because the quicker you recognize a monster, the better your odds of reaching your next birthday.

Now that you’ve found The Monster Guide, keep it with you night and day. It’s small enough to fit in your pocket, so there’s no excuse for leaving it behind. Whether you’re going to grandma’s house, school, or soccer practice, bring this book along. You just might need it.

Though all aliens have cool spaceships, it’s not a good idea to rush up and greet them. There are two kinds of aliens: the friendly type and the not-so-friendly type. If you meet an alien that glows like a nightlight and looks like a skinny, naked grade school kid with a large head, and big black eyes, don’t worry. He’s probably harmless. But if you come across an alien that resembles a reptile, stands over nine feet tall, and has razor sharp claws and teeth, guess what? You’re in trouble. This kind of alien thinks that kids make a nice snack before dinner, and that adults make a lovely main course.

Five ways to survive a close encounter with an alien:
  • Grab a flute and try a little snake charming.
  • Offer it a yummy bowl of flies or crickets.
  • Roll him over on his back and rub his tummy—it puts them to sleep every time.
  • Ask him to do your homework. They're light years ahead of us in math.
  • See if you can blow the mother ship to pieces. It may be the only way to save the Earth.

The Boogeyman
Most kids know that the Sandman brings you sweet dreams, but do you know who brings you nightmares? Here’s a clue: he lives in dark spaces, like closets and basements. If you guessed the Boogeyman, you’re right. If not, get with the program. The Boogeyman is as thin as a shadow. His face looks like a skull with cobweb hair, and his breath smells like ammonia—if you’re not sure what that smells like, put your face next to a cat litter box.

Five ways to bamboozle the Boogeyman:
  • Turn on the lights. He’ll disappear instantly.
  • Barricade the closet door. You’d be surprised what you can do with a few toys, books, backpacks, and dirty laundry.
  • Have someone read you a nice bedtime story about puppies.
  • Direct him to your little brother’s room.
  • Turn on some disco music and a strobe light. He won’t be able to stop dancing.

Okay, so it’s not a monster, but it’s the most evil vegetable known to man. Just steer clear of it.

Some monsters have cousins. The giant’s cousin is a Cyclops. Like other giants, a Cyclops stands over 25 feet tall, is dim witted, and hunts humans. What makes the Cyclops different from normal giants is that it has one eye and lives alone on Greek islands. He’s also extremely fearsome and smelly. His ferocious temper and appetite are matched only by his incredible strength and rancid body odor. So if you're planning a trip to Greece, be prepared to cut your vacation a little short. Watching a Cyclops devour your family can ruin a perfectly good time.

Five ways to sock it to a Cyclops:
  • Poke it in the eye with a sharp stick.
  • Hit it in the eye with a rock.
  • Squirt grapefruit juice in his eye.
  • Blind it by reflecting sunlight off a mirror.
  • Are you noticing a pattern here? A Cyclops has a weak spot: the eye. And since it only has one of them, you shouldn’t have much trouble injuring it.

Devils and Demons
What has horns on its head, wears a red cape, and carries a pitchfork? I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not your little sister. Devils and demons make a career of mischief. They pull chairs out from people who are about to sit down, hide the car keys when your parents need to go to work, and steal the towels before you get out of the shower. Devils and demons are a regular laugh a minute. Except they’re the only ones laughing.

Five ways to dupe a devil or demon:
  • Put ice in his pants. He hates the cold.
  • Throw in a cartoon video. He’ll be entertained for hours.
  • Tell his mother on him.
  • Take away his pitchfork until he promises to be good.
  • Tie their tails together when they’re not looking.

Dragons do not make good pets or playmates. Sure, they’re cute when they’re young, but when they grow up they’re trouble. Dragon’s breathe fire and fly from town to town on bat-like wings, eating children as if they were popcorn. They are at least 30-feet tall and 50-feet long. Some have one head and others have two or three. For sport, they attack ships, planes, cars, and people on foot. You’ll also find them battling with sea monsters over a shipload of tasty sailors. But, if you still want to bring a dragon home, that’s your own business.

Five ways to douse a dragon:
  • Spray him with a fire extinguisher.
  • Pinch his nose closed with a clothespin while he’s sleeping.
  • Whatever you do, don’t let it near your mom’s chili.
  • Give him an antacid to put out the fire in his stomach.
  • If all else fails, grab a stick and a handful of marshmallows.

Ready to hear something disgusting? Frankenstein’s monster is made up of human parts taken from dead people—a foot here, a hand there, that sort of thing. Told you it was gross. Dr. Victor Frankenstein created life from dead tissue hoping to further science. Instead he created a monster. Way to go, Victor. Frankenstein’s monster has been known to lose his temper and terrorize small villages. When this happens, look out. He’s got the strength of fifty men.

Five ways to freak out Frankenstein:
  • Light a candle––he’s afraid of fire.
  • Turn down your radio. Pretty music attracts him.
  • Throw a party. He’s afraid of crowds.
  • Have him watch your mom’s yoga video. With his stiff joints, he won’t last five minutes.
  • If all else fails, take him to a beauty salon for a makeover. He’s terribly self-conscious about his looks.

You name it; ghosts haunt it––houses, schools, cars, ships, planes, trains, restaurants, even hotels. Ghosts are spirits of dead people and they hang out in places where they used to live. They get their kicks by scaring people, and they’re pretty good at it. A ghost may be a headless body, a cold draft, or a hand delivering pizzas door to door. Angry ghosts called poltergeists like to break your mom’s China and throw pots and pans. Female ghosts that sing are called banshees, but you don’t have to worry about them, unless they’re off key.

Five ways to greet a ghost:
  • Remain calm. The worst that can happen is you’ll get scared and wet your pants.
  • Rent your house as a haunted bed and breakfast. People will flock to it.
  • Walk through each other––it’s fun.
  • Ask if he’s seen Elvis. Maybe he’ll get you an autograph.
  • Throw on a sheet with two eyeholes. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Ghouls enjoy going out for dinner, but they don’t go to Burger Hut, Chicken Time, or Pizza King. Their favorite fast-food place is the local cemetery. Ghouls eat dead people. How’s that for sickening? Ghouls are often found fighting amongst each other over scraps of flesh, like a pack of hyenas. Though ghouls seem human, they’re not. And it’s safe to say you should be suspicious of anyone with devil horns and sharp teeth, especially if they’re clutching a human drumstick.

Five ways to grapple with ghouls:
  • Do not play dead. That’s the quickest way to get eaten.
  • Kick it in the groin. Nothing tells a ghoul that you’re alive like a kick in the pants.
  • Wear a suit of armor. Ghouls can’t eat what they can’t chew.
  • Cover yourself in hot pepper sauce. That will teach them to bite into you.
  • Scare it away with broccoli. They won’t touch vegetables with a ten-foot pole.

Tall people should not be mistaken for giants. Unlike humans, who reach heights of eight or nine feet, a giant is taller than most houses. Another key difference is that giants eat people by the handful. They also have a terrific sense of smell and can detect their prey from two miles away. Plus, giants can run 100 miles per hour, making escape difficult. On the bright side, giants can be easily outsmarted. If you’ve got quick wits, a little nerve, and this page book-marked, there’s a good chance you’ll survive.

Five ways to bring a giant down to size:
  • Tie his shoelaces together.
  • Set out a bunch of banana peels and get the heck out of the way.
  • If the giant is sleeping, tie it down to the ground with ropes and stakes.
  • Run under a bridge and watch him smack his head into it.
  • Give him a barrel of bubble gum. He can’t eat you if his mouth’s full.

Goblins and Gremlins
Goblins and gremlins are a lot like devils and demons, and when they get together, look out. Gremlins are gnome-like creatures that cause problems inside of machines. They get a big kick out of delaying flights, deflating tires, and detaching train cars. Nice bunch, huh? Goblins, on the other hand, spend their time setting booby traps around people’s houses. Nothing pleases them more than making you trip on a skateboard, drink sour milk, or run out of hot water in the shower. So if your parents accuse you of putting tacks on the floor between their room and the bathroom, you’ll know who’s to blame.

Five ways to throw a wrench in a goblin’s or gremlin’s plans:
  • (See devils and demons.)
  • Lock them in your car and have the car compacted.
  • Set a booby trap on a gremlin and make it look like goblin did it.
  • Send it to its room without dinner––it works with mischievous kids.
  • Carpet the house with bubble wrap, so they can’t sneak around.

Thousands of years ago, Egyptian pharaohs not only lived like kings, they died like them, too. Pharaohs were buried in huge pyramids with all of their most treasured possessions. The pharaohs’ bodies were mummified so that they would last forever, sort of like pickles in vinegar. Unlike pickles, however, mummies have a nasty habit of coming back to life. This usually happens when grave robbers enter their tomb to steal jewels. Once a mummy is woken up, he’ll put a curse on anyone he finds in his tomb. And a mummy’s curse always ends badly.

Five ways to muddle a mummy:
  • Unravel him––it works in cartoons.
  • Take him to an antique show. He’s bound to be worth a couple hundred bucks.
  • Tuck him back into tomb and read him a bedtime story.
  • Help him get his treasures back to his tomb. This may require a trip to the Egyptian wing of the museum.
  • Give him a breath mint. He’s got 3,000-year-old morning breath.

Sea Monsters
Loose lips don’t sink ships, sea monsters do. The Loch Ness Monster, the creature from the Black Lagoon, and the giant squid are a just a few monsters of the deep. Sea monsters are always on the lookout for a ship full of tastysailors. There’s nothing they like more than shaking them out of ships like potato chips from a bag. So if you’re thinking about taking up sailing, you may want to consider a safer hobby, like knitting.

Five ways to sink a sea monster:
  • Grab a lasso and some water skis.
  • Make him swallow an inflatable raft, then pull the cord and watch him blow up like a balloon.
  • Give him a boatload of gold fish food. Overeating will make any fish go belly-up.
  • Put on a life jacket, for Pete’s sake.
  • If you’re lucky enough to catch a sea monster, they’re great fried with lemon and butter. Serves 250.

For hundreds of years, trolls have caused trouble in Scandinavian countries, like Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. But recently they’ve moved to the United States, Canada, and other parts of the world. So you really can’t be too safe wherever you live. To find a troll, just look under a bridge or inside a cave, and if you see a magical dwarf living there, it’s probably a troll. Trolls have names like Inga and Sven, and they speak with Swedish accents. Some trolls are friendly, but others are downright nasty. The nice ones like to sing songs and whistle tunes while they do housework. The mean ones, however, like to make big pots of human stew.

Five ways to trip up a troll:
  • Compliment him on his bridge or cave. Say things like: “I love what you’ve done with the place.”
  • Tell him you can’t stay for dinner, especially if you’re the main course.
  • Pay his toll and be on your way.
  • His riddles can be tough. Use an encyclopedia.
  • Pretend you’re a real estate agent and interest him in a new cave. Just don’t mention that it’s occupied by a dragon.

Suspect someone you know is a vampire? Try this test. Does he sleep in a coffin during the day? Is his reflection missing when he looks in a mirror? Can he turn into a bat? If so, chances are your buddy’s a vampire. Vampires come looking for blood just after dusk, which is why parents created curfews. If you get bitten, you’ll become a vampire, too. The good news is, you can turn back to normal if you get rid of the king vampire. But that’s easier said than done, because he’s the most powerful of the bunch.

Five ways to vanquish a vampire:
  • Sprinkle your neck, chest and armpits with garlic powder. Vampires hate the smell.
  • Offer him a bowl of tomato sauce or ketchup. He might think it's blood.
  • Install a skylight on his coffin and put it in a nice, sunny spot.
  • Put corks on his fangs.
  • And of course there’s always the old stake through the heart thing, but...ew.

Under a full moon, strange things happen to ordinary people. Fur grows over their bodies, they grow big noses, and they get hungry for human flesh. You guessed it, they’re werewolves. If a werewolf bites you, get ready for a transformation to take place. In no time, you’ll have a fur coat of your own. Who knows, you might enjoy running with a pack of wolves and howling at the moon. If not, don’t worry. You’ll be your old self in the morning.

Five ways to pull the wool over a werewolf:
  • Offer him a dog chew toy.
  • Tell him it’s not a full moon until tomorrow. He’ll be terribly embarrassed.
  • Offer him some wolf bane. They die for it, literally.
  • See if he’ll chase his tail.
  • Throw a stick off a cliff and yell: “Fetch.”

Witches are nasty beasts. They fly on broomsticks, throw fireballs at people, and turn children into toads and mice. If they had their way, there would be no kids left on the planet. Identifying a witch shouldn’t be difficult, because they have a distinct taste in fashion. They wear black because they think it complements their green skin. Accessories are big for them, too. They love ruby slippers, broomsticks, and hats––and not just black pointy ones. They have hats of every description. If you’re still not sure if it’s a witch, look in her kitchen. No witch’s house is complete without a cauldron that’s large enough for at least two kids.

Five ways to wallop a witch:
  • Keep a bucket of water over your bedroom door. Water makes her disappear.
  • Wear your dad’s pants and walk around on stilts. She won’t know you’re a kid.
  • If she invites you to take a hot tub in her cauldron, tell her you’ll pass.
  • Switch your broomstick with hers.
  • If you happen to come across a house made of candy, keep on walkin’.

Zombies originated in Haiti and Louisiana, where people brought the dead back to life with voodoo spells. This wasn’t such a bright idea, because now they have to deal with the walking dead on buses, streets, and even in grocery stores. Zombies can’t speak, nor do they have good manners. So don’t try to strike up a conversation. Better yet, don’t let it near you. Zombies have a strict, all-human diet. They could have ghouls over for disgusting dinner parties. Gross, huh?

Five ways to throw a zombie a zinger:
  • Create a voodoo doll of the zombie and make it punch itself in the face.
  • High tail it out of Haiti or Louisiana.
  • Cover yourself in feathers and walk like a chicken. Zombies only eat humans.
  • Due to rigor mortis, zombies aren’t the fastest things on the planet. Grab your running shoes and hit the road.
  • If all else fails, throw on some scary makeup and do your best to blend in.

You’ve reached the end of the book. If you’ve run into a monster not found in these pages, don’t panic—losing your head is the best way to, well, lose your head. Just remember that you’re smarter than most spooks and horrors. So, identify its weakness. Confuse it. And if that doesn’t work, introduce it to your little brother. If you put your mind to it, you’ll come up with something. If not, well, it’s been nice knowing you, kid.

The Outrageous Story of Hefferton and Cluckinburg

Illustration by Thad Tichenor

Story by Thad Tichenor and Ethan Johnson

The towns of Hefferton, which raised cows, and Cluckinburg, which raised chickens, didn't like each other one bit. Hefferton would do just about anything to ruffle Cluckinburg's feathers, and Cluckinburg knew just how to tan Hefferton's hide.

You see, Hefferton and Cluckinburg had been rivals for years. Whether it was high school football games, spelling bees, or 4-H shows, the two towns’ mayors never turned down a chance to outdo each other. Which brings us to the topic of Burt Winkles and Marigold the cow.

Burt Winkles lived in Hefferton, and one day he decided to paint his barn. So he got himself a fancy high-powered paint sprayer, and everything was going just fine until he lost his balance and fell from his ladder. That was when Burt’s paint sprayer went wild. It flapped around like a bucking bronco, and by the time Burt finally got hold of it, the gadget had sprayed everything purple, even Marigold the cow.

Naturally, when the mayor of Hefferton learned about Marigold, he was delighted, and he made sure that his town’s purple polka-dotted cow was on the front page of The Hefferton Herald and The Cluckinburg Times. Everyone in Hefferton was as pleased as could be. But there was one person who was not happy about it. That person, of course, was the mayor of Cluckinburg.

“Those dang Heffertoners have got themselves a purple polka-dotted cow,” the mayor of Cluckinburg said, shaking his fist. “This calls for a town meetin’.” The people of Cluckinburg gathered in the town square and thought long and hard about how to outdo Hefferton’s spotted cow.

Finally a chicken farmer spoke up. “How about a bike-ridin’ chicken?” Everyone, including the mayor of Cluckinburg, thought that was a fine idea.

Right away the folks in Cluckinburg got to work teaching chickens to ride bicycles. Before long they succeeded, and everyone celebrated—everyone, that is, except the mayor of Hefferton.

“Gosh darn those Cluckinburgers,” the mayor of Hefferton said. “This calls for a double-emergency town meetin’.”

The people of Hefferton got together and tried to think of a way to outdo Cluckinburg’s bike-riding chickens. It wasn’t an easy task, but eventually they came up with an idea.

A cattle rancher pulled a piece of lint out of a pocket in his overalls and said, “Why don’t we create a giant lint ball?”

Everyone agreed that this was a nifty notion and immediately got to work collecting lint. The mayor of Hefferton found enough lint in his pockets and under his bed to make a lint ball the size of a grapefruit. A week later, when everyone in town put their lint together, Hefferton’s lint ball was bigger than a stretch limousine. And everyone was happy about it. Everyone, that is, except the mayor of Cluckinburg.

“This calls for a triple-dipple-emergency town meeting,” he said, slamming his fist down on the table. Just when the folks in Cluckinburg thought they would never come up with something better than a giant ball of lint, Granny Duncan stopped rocking in her chair and said, “Why don’t we sew up a giant wooly windsock and fly in from a flagpole.”

The next thing you knew, the Cluckinburgers were sheering sheep, spinning wool into yarn, and sewing as fast as they could. Before the sun went down, the largest windsock anyone had ever seen flapped in the breeze above the town square. And boy, did that old windsock upset the mayor of Hefferton.

Hot coffee sprayed out of his mouth when he saw it flapping away in the breeze. “This calls for a quadruple-doople-emergency town meetin’,” he said.

So once again the people of Hefferton put their heads together and tried to outdo Cluckinburg and their big stinkin’ windsock.

“We need something really big, like the Statue of Liberty,” suggested a little kid named Marvin.
A farmer laughed and patted the boy's head. “What are we gonna build it out of, potatoes?”

The people of Hefferton instantly recognized the genius of this idea and got to work digging, washing, peeling, and mashing every potato in town. The potato sculpting lasted until well after dark, and when they finished, the people of Hefferton had reason to celebrate. The only person who wasn’t happy about it was the mayor of Cluckinburg.

He called a five-alarm-emergency town meeting. At first the townspeople couldn’t think of anything that would beat a mashed-potato Statue of Liberty. But then Duane the fry cook held up his spatula and said, “How about a Leaning Tower of Pancakes?”

The mayor liked the idea so much he hopped around like a Cluckinburg chicken.

So the folks of Cluckinburg set to work creating the biggest stack of hotcakes the world has ever seen. It took every bit of wheat in town and every last egg from their henhouses. In the end, their Leaning Tower of Pancakes stood more than 200 feet high, and they topped it off with syrup and a dollop of butter that was as big as a TV set.

The sight of that pancake tower delighted everyone. Everyone, that is, except the mayor of Hefferton.

So he called a six-alarm hurry-up-emergency town meeting. He got the people of Hefferton worked up into a real tizzy coming up with a way to outdo their neighboring town. Finally an idea came to them. They called it their Grand Finale, and it was really something to see. In addition to their Statue of Liberty and their giant lint ball, Hefferton created a colossal cow pyramid, using every last cow in town, with a purple polka-dotted cow on top.

This did not please the mayor of Cluckinburg.

He told everyone in Cluckinburg to gather up their chickens. Before long chickens were balancing on top of chickens, on top of a bike-ridin’ chicken. The two towns went on this way for hours. And finally, both towns stood back in awe and both mayors grinned from ear to ear. The colossal cow pyramid and the rolling chicken tower were tremendous sights to see.

That is, until something terrible happened.

The bike-ridin’ chicken crashed into the Leaning Tower of Pancakes, causing a heap of chickens and pancakes to fall, which created a buttery avalanche of sticky feathers. The Leaning Tower of Pancakes fell right onto the colossal cow pyramid, which knocked over the mashed-potato Statue of Liberty. Cows flew through the air, and mashed potatoes blanketed houses and streets. People screamed and ran for their lives.

The mayor of Cluckinburg got splashed by syrup, which made the chicken feathers stick all over him. And buried under a mountain of mashed potatoes, the mayor of Hefferton looked like a snowman.

When it was all over, both towns were in sad shape and the mayors declared a truce. It took months to clean up the mess. But eventually, the people in Cluckinburg went back to raising chickens, and the folks in Hefferton went back to raising cows.

Everything was going along just fine until the day the mayors saw something in their town's newspapers.

It turns out that another neighboring town, by the name of Billy Goat’s Bluff, had a bubble-gum chewing, bubble-blowing goat. The sight of it nearly drove the mayors of Hefferton and Cluckinburg crazy. They called each other on the phone and set up a two-town-emergency meeting to begin thinking of ways to outdo Billy Goat’s Bluff.

And so it all started again, only this time the two towns of Hefferton and Cluckinburg worked together. That’s about the only good thing that came out of this whole mess. Unless, of course, you'd be impressed by a hang-gliding goat.