Kraken

The humble squid has contributed greatly to our knowledge of the nervous system.  The squid giant axon has proved to be an excellent model to study nerve conduction.  Some have suggested that giant squid giant axons should be even more impressive, but alas, the laws of physics conspire against us.

Speaking of the giant squid, I happen to have a modest collection of Kraken books.

ALAFlotsam (2006)  by David Wiesner

This book is absolutely beautiful. I can’t come up with enough adjectives for it, rich, yummy, delicious. This is a picture book in the most literal sense of the word. The story is told completely without words. A boy finds a camera washed ashore by the waves. He develops the film and discovers an undersea world. He also finds pictures of all the other children who have found the camera over the years. He takes his picture and throws the camera back in.

There is a wonderful picture of the giant squid giving rides to mermaids in an undersea garden. Every time I open the book I find something new. There are some sea turtles with castles on their backs and a mechanical fish which are also absolutely stunning.emwindsnap

Other books by David Wiesner include Tuesday, which involves flying frogs, and June 29, 1999 in which giant vegetables start mysteriously falling from the sky. I heartily recommend stopping by the children’s section of the library.
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The Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance: Animals of the Ocean; in particular the Giant Squid (2006)  by Mark Wasserman and Irene Ng
This brand of humor can only be described with one word — very odd.

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep  (2006)  by Liz Kessler

It’s a cute story, aimed at 8-12-year-old girls.  This one had an interesting take on the myth of the Kraken, but a bit more “don’t do it” suspense than I like.

i-713779e17d70f81207657616eaa4db43-TentaclesTentacles! Tales of the Giant Squid (2003) by Shirley Raye Redmond

This is an easy reader (grades 1-3), published in 2003, illustrated with drawings and photographs. Very colorful. Good pictures, even if they are slightly out of date now (the book dates from before there were photos of live giant squid). All in all, it’s a good book for lively young minds.

The Search for the Giant Squid: the Biology and Mythology of the World’s most elusive Sea Creature 325168(1998) by Richard Ellis

Ellis’ name begins to appear rather frequently if you search seriously into Architeuthis. He has also written Monsters of the Sea; the history, natural history, and mythology of the oceans’ most fantastic creatures.  The book is very thorough and covers a lot of information.  It is a little bit dated, as it was written before the giant squid had been caught live or filmed in it’s native environment.  (Although I will admit to being much less

impressed with the photos of the squid in its natural environment when I realized that they only saw one squid and then photoshopped the picture to make it look like two.  Kind of misses the point of going to all that effort to see the real thing.)

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The Highest Tide (2006) by Jim Lynch

It’s a long time since I read this one.  It features the squid, Architeuthis Dux, itself and a coming of age story.  I think I had hoped for a bit more squid and a bit less coming of age, but it’s been a while since I read it.  All in all, 2006 was a good year for the Kraken.

Island of the Aunts (2001) by Eva Ibbotsonaunts2

Eva Ibbotson’s works have been compared to Harry Potter. I think that means that they are children’s fantasy novels written in the past ten years that take place in or around England. Her books are highly original. Her characters are well-meaning and good-hearted, but sometimes have unusual ethics.

This book, like her others, is a good fun read. Her version of the Kraken was not closely related to most mythological versions of the monster, or to the biological versions of the creature, but he was a well-developed character and made for a good story.

Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox (2008) by Eoin Colfereng_1

This is Book 6 in the Artemis Fowl series.  Artemis has been described as a juvenile delinquent Harry Potter.  (Personally, I’d put my money on Artemis.)  I really enjoyed the depiction of the Kraken — true to the original stories and very different from the usual images.

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The Harry Potter series (1997-2007) by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter has occasionally been compared to Harry Potter.  The giant squid is an inhabitant of the Black Lake.  Although it is not a major character, it is mentioned in many of the books.  I am fond of it.

For a better view of this gorgeous cover redesign

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