Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr): Vroom! by Barbara McClintock

Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science Behind Your Favorite Monsters

Science and history are scary fun subjects in Carlyn Beccia's fascinating dissection of eight storied creatures from film and folklore.

Vampires, zombies, werewolves and other mythical monsters have induced fear in audiences for ages. But in Monstrous, Beccia tickles her audience's prefrontal cortexes with eye-opening biology, riveting physics, savory nutrition and more, to prove that "Science is stronger than fear." Using gruesome history (like the story of Dracula's namesake, Prince Vlad Dracula, who impaled his enemies with stakes and left their remains to the vultures) or bizarre fun facts (such as pigs created with spinach genes), Beccia ingeniously pulls back the curtain on the supernatural. The infographics throughout help simplify the complex scientific concepts she explains, making them consumable--and enjoyable--for young readers. Even math becomes enticing when calculating why King Kong is too big for reality.

Whether a budding scientist or a horror film buff, middle-grade readers of all stripes will be captivated by the inner workings of these famous monsters. --Jen Forbus, freelancer