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Friday, September 30, 2011

The Stranger Among Us: In Search of Sasquatch by Kelly Milner Halls

Twelve-year-old Montra Freitas was bored. Her parents had taken her to a remote camping site deep in the California woods, and there were no kids around. At loose ends, she strolled a down a narrow trail to play around the nearby creek.

Looking behind her, she felt the hair actually stand up on the back of her neck. Something was there, partly hidden by a large tree trunk.

"I could make out long fingers and very dark brown hair covering the entire arm. I thought. That's not a branch and it's not a bear paw, but it sure looks like an arm with a hand."

She had pondered the thought for only a moment when a face peeked out from the other side of the large tree. "It was a very flat face, very dark brown. I couldn't make out any features, except for the eyes," she said, "and they were looking right at me."

Fear bolted up her spine. She had never heard of Sasquatch. She knew only that she was alone in the woods, a full city block from the safety of her campsite, looking at something completely unknown.

Without another thought, Fietas ran.

Montra had just had experienced a rare sighting of the elusive Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot. Now a young woman, she still has dreams of that moment, even though she is believes that the Sasquatch was only curious.

The Sasquatch, "cousin" of the Yeti and Alma, the "abominable snowmen" of Asia, has been seen in every state of the U.S. except Hawaii and all but one Canadian province. His history goes back hundreds of years before European settlers in his many names in Native American languages, stone carvings, totem poles figures, rock carvings, basketry and pottery designs, and his appearances to white settlers live on in our folktales of "The Hairy Man."

Sasquatch is a genuine "cryptid," an unverified animal for which there is some physical evidence--in this case, castings of footprints which scientists type as those of a prehominid ape unlike those of humans, and in one intriguing minute of film taken in the California wilderness in 1967. Other cryptids, such as the Kraken, or giant squid, only existed in legends going back to the ancient Mediterranean and in medieval woodblock prints until recent photos made in Japanese waters proved its existence. Bigfoot hunters point to physical evidence such as "upbreaks" (single branches partially broken by an strong upward force as if to mark a trail) or ground-level dens clearly constructed of sticks and leaves big enough to be a temporary shelter for a seven-foot beast. Anthropologists agree that prehominids once existed and fossils have been found around the world which prove their existence. But where are those Sasquatch fossils?

Kelly Milnar Hall's forthcoming In Search of Sasquatch: An Exercise in Zoological Evidence (Houghton Mifflin, 2011) takes another shot at the Bigfoot mystery, one which has intrigued, frustrated, and entertained Americans for over half a century. Hall succinctly summarizes the history of the Sasquatch phenomenon in a chapter augmented by a map showing the number of sightings around North America, photos of apelike stone heads made by pre-Columbian Indians, baskets with designs of giant apelike figures woven in the Southwest, and a table showing tribes, from Cherokee to Zuni.the tribal name for the Bigfoot creature, and its English translation. She then recounts the stories of early and recent Bigfoot hunters, with photos of the castings taken of footprints over the years from huge adults to smaller juveniles, all amazingly similar. Hall deftly summarizes the evidence for and against the existence of the "real" Sasquatch, but insists that despite the lack of incontrovertible documentation, many scientists still believe that there is something out there.

Backmatter for In Search of Sasquatch: An Exercise in Zoological Evidence includes recent books and videos, a variety of websites, a bibliography and sources, glossary, and index.

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2 Comments:

  • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and write about my new book IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH. I worked so hard on researching and writing the book, it means a lot to me that you shared your thoughts with the blogging world.

    Again, thank you!

    Kelly Milner Halls
    Children's Writer
    www.kellymilnerhalls.com

    By Blogger Wonders of Weird, at 8:50 PM  

  • Thanks, Kelly. Keep up the good work.
    Solid nonfiction books are to be appreciated!

    By Blogger GTC, at 10:53 AM  

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