Hi, I’m hoping someone is familiar with this book from my youth. It’s driving me nuts. I remember very little about it, except that it was an illustrated book about various monsters or creatures with fanciful names. The only specific (i.e. helpful) detail I remember is that there was a creature in it who could never be seen - it would sneak up behind people and follow them around, and no matter how fast they whirled around it would go into hiding before they could catch a glimpse of it.
Thanks in advance. If this doesn’t pan out, I’ll donate my $2 to these guys.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think the book you’re remembering is Professor Wormbog in the Hunt for the Zipperump-A-Zoo by Mercer Mayer. There is an alphabetical list of fanciful creatures near the beginning of the book, but most of the story is about an intrepid explorer trying to find an elusive creature (though he does meet other odd and interesting creatures along the way).
If you hit the “next page” link from that three times, you’ll get to the page with the list of creatures.
This is one of Mayer’s great '70s children’s books, which are filled with side comments, silly jokes, and lots of strange creatures hiding all over the pages. (Other good ones from this era include How the Trollusk Got His Hat and One Monster After Another.)
The other possibility, it was a book for somewhat older children (the Mayers are picture books, to be read aloud or for beginning readers), is that it was one of the “McBroom” stories by Sid Fleischman, about a tall-tale telling farmer and his incredible one-acre farm. One story was about a creature so shy that it was always hiding behind you, so you could never see it.
If you also remember stories about a winter so cold sunlight froze, or a creature that lived on the side of a hill and had legs two different lengths, then this is probably the one you want. I’m having some trouble figuring out which book had this particular story in it – I think it was McBroom’s Ghost, but I’m not sure. A children’s librarian could help you narrow it down – or you could look at the books in a store, since they seem to be all in print now.
It’s not the Mayer book, although I did love that one too. Your mention of the other book strikes a chord though. Specifically the bit about the creature with legs of two different lengths. I’ll do some more research… thanks!
Further information: I think it may be “McBroom’s Zoo.” The description I’ve read of it sounds really familiar, but I can’t find a list anywhere of all the creatures in it. I’m pretty sure if I saw the names of the creatures I would know if that was it. The thing that’s throwing me off is that the illustrations from the other (newer?) McBroom books look dramatically unlike what I remember of this book, so I’m not sure if that’s the one or not.
This book has nice illustrations. Mixes myths and fiction. Adds stupid side comments they thought were cute but really aren’t, if you are looking for actual information. Factually it has a lot of problems. But as entertainment and with pretty pictures it’s right up there.