The Crestwood House Monster Series began as a set of six books that were available to elementary schools in 1977. The first books came in a boxed "Monster Reading Center" that included softcover copies of the titles, a teacher's guide, audio cassettes, and bookmarks for the class.
|[ABOVE: from the Richard Olson Collection (note original shipping box at left!); unattributed photo found on Google quite a while back.]|
|[first version of bookmark with original 6 titles.]|
|[collection of Sean Linkenback]|
|[LEFT: unattributed image; RIGHT: Sicko-Psychotic blog (link in Bibliography).]|
If your classroom didn't have the paperback editions, it was much more likely that your school library contained the hardcover one, which you could check out and take home! And many of us did, creating lots of fond memories that have resulted in steadily rising prices for all of the Monster Series books!
On the left is the hardcover most people are familiar with, but there was also a special "colorful" library edition that was made, which is extremely rare. As I mentioned, I just obtained one, which we will see much more of next time.
And now to the book itself! As it turns out, "Ian Thorne" was a pen name for prolific author Julian May (1931-2017). Unfortunately, the book is as famous for her factual mistakes as it is for its dearness to many schoolkids! (See links below for a thorough list of these errors).
But of course, it was 1977, a time when there was precious little accurate Godzilla-related information to be had, and the book served as an important introduction to many young fans. It also included lots of great photos, including some pretty rare ones, and even some of Toho's infamous paste-ups (Some of them were even provided by Famous Monsters' Forrest Ackerman!).
One particular page that was mind-blowing to young me was the diagram above, showing how kaiju films were made!
But enough talk about the book, you really should read it for yourself:
Meet back here next time, where we will look at variations, because they just wouldn't fit in this post. Oh, and have a book report ready to present to the entire class!
Bibliography & Links of Interest:
Branded in the 80s (info on Monster Series and a look at the FRANKENSTEIN book).
Toho Kingdom (a great review of the GODZILLA book that lists out the many errors).
Classic Movie Monsters (one of the promo posters we didn't feature here).
Sicko-Psychotic (excellent article on Crestwood House with tons of info & photos).
Bits, Bytes, Oddities and Audio (this site has the DRACULA cassette for download and it's amazing!)