Thursday, May 31, 2012

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

Children’s Book of Mythical Beasts & Magical Monsters, by Deborah Lock (and other Dorling Kindersley publishers), 142 pages.
Would children be interested in a book of myths and legends?
They’re almost certain to be intrigued by the mythical monsters, legendary beasts, quests, battles, adventures and magic featured in this colourful, appealing book of myths and legends - especially with the recent popularity of author Rick Riordan’s mythological series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians.
With hundreds of illustrations and well-written, readable text, readers are introduced here to some of the finest myths, legends, and traditional stories from around the world.
Stories are not organized by time or culture - instead, three main categories are used: “Nature and Nation”, “Magic and Mayhem”, and “Quests and Battles”. Within these categories, legends and myths from various cultures are brought together by themes such as shapeshifters, warrior heroes, warrior heroines, dragons, flood stories, etc.
Unusual creatures as well as the more familiar are included: the kappa (a Japanese water spirit), the selkie (Northern-European seal-like creatures) as well as the hydra, griffin, the one-eyed Cyclops and many more.
The book also makes interesting comparisons between various legendary creatures and today’s animals… for example, between the bunyip of Australian mythology and today’s marsupials and hippopotamuses.
Dorling Kindersley is noted for its publication of appealing and informative children’s books such as this.  Complete with a character index and glossary, the Children’s Book of Mythical Beasts & Magical Monsters will definitely hold kids’ interest and will likely lead to further research and reading on their part.
** Recommended for ages 8 to 11 years.

Fantasy: An Artist’s Realm, by Ben Boos, 83 pages.
Of the many books which offer a visual escape to another world, author-illustrator Ben Boo’s Fantasy: An Artist’s Realm is one of the very best.
In descriptive, lyrical prose and lovely, intricate artwork, readers are transported to New Perigord – a mystical land whose “strange cities, green fields, giant mountains, deep dark forests”, caves and enormous fortresses are filled with fairies, elves, dwarves, minotaurs, mages, paladins, warriors, rogues, troglodytes, “undead horrors” and many other creatures and peoples.
From the airy to the eerie, and from the misty to the magical, the imaginary land of New Perigord - with its similarities to the worlds of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series and C.S. Lewis’s Chroniclesof Narnia series - will absolutely captivate and delight children of all ages (and adults) who are interested in fantasy. 
There are many special aspects of this stunning book to note; among them are the meticulously detailed, elaborate illustrations and the equally detailed text – both of which cause the reader to believe that they are actually in the mystical land of New Perigord, with its unique creatures, peoples, customs, dwellings, implements, tools and weapons.
As an introduction, the book begins with a large full-colour map of New Perigord and its various regions, from “airy elven forests to misty coastal fortresses and to the eerie Necropolis”. At the end of the book, an author’s note encourages readers to imagine and draw their own fantasy world. 
Ben Boos, the talented illustrator and author of Fantasy: An Artist’s Realm, notes that in creating this richly imagined book, he was inspired by “endless daydreams and the light of many minds”… yet the Perigords “are fuller of wonders than could be listed or described in the lifetime of a mere mortal.”
** Recommended for ages 9 years and up.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on May 31, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian

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