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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Imaginary Menagerie, Mythological Creatures

Imaginary Menagerie
A Book of Curious Creatures
Poems by Julie Larios
Paintings by Julie Paschkis

The gorgeous illustrations attracted me to this book in the library; and as I flipped through the pages, I knew the 7-year-old would love reading this collection of poems about mythological creatures as she gazes at the colorful illustrations by Julie Paschkis.

Fourteen of the most enigmatic and awe-inspiring beings that make myths so attractive and yet hair-raising in some sense, are presented in this collection by the team who brought Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary, a book of colorful animals.

From Dragon to Troll, Centaur to Firebird, Sphinx to Phoenix, Will o' the Wisp to Hobgoblin, Cockatrice to Thunderbird, the short poems are presented on the left of a double page spread with the paintings on the right.

I'm a snake-tailed rooster,
I'm a rooster-headed snake.
All it takes
to turn you to stone
is one look from me.
Should I crow or should I hiss?

Some poems can be frightful, like the Trolls which claims, "...Troll arms will grab you and put you in a pot-" or the Sea Serpent which invites, "Tonight when you sleep, why don't you swim with me through the water?" but for the most part they are delightful and lyrical, like the Centaur, "Can he be half gallop, half-walk? half dream, Half-real? Half neigh, half talk?..."

Mythological Creatures being the current subject of interest, the book was much relished and read several times over by the 7-yo. However, I did not think the resident 4-yo was ready for it so I decided to wait a year or two to read it with him.

Last page has More About the Imaginary Menagerie which provides a short paragraph about each of these creatures drawn from various cultures and folklore.

Also by Julie Paschkis - Through Georgia's Eyes and Bottle Houses.

[image source:]

Mythological Creatures
A Classical Bestiary
by Lynn Curlee

"In ancient Greece people told wonderful stories about a magical world."

The Prologue appealed to me as it sets out to explain how some of the most the wondrous and terrifying beasts were probably conjured up in people's imagination and were brought forth in poems and sculptures and paintings which survived as the myths we know today. Stories about real and imaginary animals were collected and studied in the Middle Ages in books called bestiaries.

Each double page spread has a picture on one side and a page of text dedicated to such beings as Chimera, Cerberus (which unavoidably got nick-named "Fluffy" in our house), Gryphons, and Sphinx, as well as Gorgon Medusa, Talus, Argus, Minotaur and the usual.

The Epilogue adds how the Greek myths were handed from generation to generation until it was absorbed and morphed by the conquering Romans and eventually forgotten until the Renaissance period when it all came alive again and became a fascinating study.

[image source:]

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