Monsters at Middle School in the 1970s

Way back in the olden days of the late mid 1970s when I was just a little Monster-Kid in school, we had a wonderful thing called The Scholastic Book Club which still exists to this very day. Each month, classrooms were given a small three or four page catalogue filled with dozens of books for boys and girls who liked to read, and for just a dollar or two, a marvelous bounty of books could be yours. Much to my delight, almost every month there was a book or two about monsters or ghosts or something else spooky and fun.

Some that I remember best, were the monster books written and illustrated by Norman Bridwell (of Clifford the Big Red Dog fame). I believe there were three in the series, which included, How to Care for Your Monster published in 1970, Monster Jokes and Riddles published 1972, and Monster Holidays published in 1974.

How to Care for Your Monster was a book intended to help kids find a monster of their own to have as a friend and companion. It gives very precise and detailed instructions on where to find a monster and how to properly care for several different kinds of monsters such as, a Vampire, a Wolfman, a Mummy, and a Frankenstein Monster. By following the simple directions and advice in the book, any kid could have a happy, healthy monster as a part of their family.

Oh, how I wished I could have had a monster of my very own, just like the lucky kids in the book. But alas, my town did not have a used monster store or a monster store of any kind, for that matter. And though I wondered the woods searching for Werewolves and the visited the graveyards for looking for Vampires, I was doomed to live as a lonely and monster-less child.

In 1972, Bridwell followed How to Care for your Monster, with a wonderful book called Monster Jokes and Riddles. Just as the title implies, it was a silly collection of jokes, riddles, and puns about the classic Monsters, Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein, and the Mummy.

What do you call a dentist who offers to clean your werewolf’s teeth?

Crazy, man, crazy.

Why do Frankenstein monsters make good gardeners?

Because they have green thumbs. (Also green hands, green wrists, green arms, etc.)

Why do Vampires like good-natured people?

They can never stand a cross word from anyone.

The next book came along in 1974, titled Monster Holidays. This book was a clever guide to show the best ways to insure that you and your monster share fun and exciting holidays together. Whether you go to the beach, trick or treating at Halloween, or you’re out singing Christmas carols in December, you and your monster are sure to have a wonderful time.

I thought these books were so cool and I enjoyed reading them over and over when I was a kid, and I still enjoy them today. Norman’s two-color illustrations were brilliant and conveyed a sense of spooky silliness and fun while still staying true to the characters of the old classic monsters.

The Scholastic Book Club books were made to be as affordable as possible for kids. Unfortunately, this meant they were mostly printed on cheap acid paper stock that tended to yellow and disintegrate over time. Now, some forty years later, it’s very difficult to find a mint-condition copy of any of these wonderful books. Most are brown and cracked with age.

 My own books, pictured below, are showing signs of age as they are turning brown around the edges or “foxing” as the book collectors like to say, and in time, the glue on bindings will eventual dry and crack leaving the pages loose and brittle.

I do my best to keep them out off the sunlight and covered in acid-free archival-quality plastic comic bags with boards to prevent the spines from rolling and the edges of the pages from curling. I hope to have them a good long time as they have brought me many pleasant memories over the years.

 From How To Care For Your Monster, explaining the best time to visit your local monster store.

Here, we learn the possible benefits of having a Mummy for a monster friend and companion.

Here we see some happy young monster owners enjoying Halloween with their favorite monster friend.

Looks like it’s feeding time for this lucky Vampire, whose owners all chip in to make sure he’s well cared for and always has a good supply of his favorite beverage close at hand, or close to fang.

This is a page from Monster Jokes and Riddles that demonstrates how fashion trends can affect your monster.

Poor Frankenstein, he never gets the girl in the movies and it seems he never gets the girl in real life either.

Well Fearless Readers, I really can’t tell you how much fun its been sharing these old books with you. It was wonderful to pull them off the shelf and flip through their rapidly ageing pages. The art work and stories inside bring back so many fond monster memories from my creepy Monster-Kid days.