Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fantastic, Fabulous Creatures and Beasts: Volume 1

Fantastic, Fabulous Creatures and Beasts: Volume 1

by Melanie Dellas
Illustrated by Christopher Bennett

Fantastic, Fabulous Creatures & Beasts came about because of my love of history. As a child I was fascinated with folk tales from other countries and the history of ancient civilizations. I read everything I could get my hands on, including the many encyclopedias my parents kept in the study. There was a certain thrill in discovering mythology from all over the world and seeing how closely related it all was. As an adult, my love for mythology and history never ceased. In fact, it grew stronger. After having my second child, I decided it was time to put my favorite myths into a book that would not only entertain my children, but teach them about the various cultures and their folklore.

I have taken the "real" folk tales and written them in a format that will help children remember them. Because I have not embellished the stories or changed them in any way from their original versions, you will find happy creatures and sad creatures, friendly creatures and not-so-friendly creatures. The tales contained within are from China, Russia, India and many other countries. Through this book, it is my hope that children will come to respect and appreciate the multicultural world they live in and, of course, remember that our world is still mystical and magical - as long as our stories remain alive. (description taken from

This book takes mythical creatures from many different cultures and showcases a poem and illustration for each. Some of the creatures are familiar to children in Western cultures, like the unicorn, Pegasus, and Medusa, while others from very foreign lands may first be learned about here.

Dellas presents each creature's story in a poem. The rhyming stanzas vary in reading level from creature to creature. Younger children can pick this book up and enjoy the illustrations and have someone help them understand the poems. Older readers will be able to enjoy on their own.

The Phoenix, it's said, has iridescent wings
and a body of reddish-gold,
with a tuft of feathers at the back of its head
that is fiery and bold.

The illustrations that match each creature are really stylized and just plain "cool." They actually remind me of the type of illustrations you would see on an album or CD cover. One of my favorite illustrations is of an electric blue and purple "Heaven Dog" from China. I also really loved both the poem and the illustration for the "Simurgh," a Persian mythological bird that gathered seeds from the Tree of Life and gave them to the world.

Though this book is a scant 45 pages, readers of almost any age are guaranteed to learn new mythology and to enjoy the beautiful format.

Full disclosure: Copy borrowed from my Library, but purchased for the Library after being contacted by publicist.

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