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Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures
     

Imaginary Menagerie: A Book of Curious Creatures

by Julie Larios
 

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Who is half gallop, half walk? Who can turn you to stone with one look? Whose voice do you hear in the splash on the shore?          Centaurs, mermaids, and other curious creatures populate these wondrous poems and paintings, inspired by a mythological world full of imagination and

Overview

Who is half gallop, half walk? Who can turn you to stone with one look? Whose voice do you hear in the splash on the shore?          Centaurs, mermaids, and other curious creatures populate these wondrous poems and paintings, inspired by a mythological world full of imagination and mystery.          Includes end notes about cultures and legends.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

As in an illuminated manuscript, the artwork shimmers in this verse catalogue of creatures from mythology and folklore, a sequel of sorts to Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary. Outshining the quiet poems, Paschkis's gouache paintings adorn the title of each poem with a gracefully illustrated initial. The "P" of "Phoenix" is shaped like a wing, and the W of "Will o'the Wisp" consists of espaliered tree limbs. Although the paintings create a unified whole, stylistically each evokes the country of its beast's origin. The firebird's tail, for example, resembles a lacquered Russian miniature, and the Thunderbird looks like a Tlingit carved raven. The poems themselves are both thoughtful and appropriate, describing each creature's characteristics and also nimbly drawing readers directly into the imaginary scene: "Troll arms will grab you/ and put you in a pot." Readers unfamiliar with some of the more exotic creatures-the cockatrice, naga or hobgoblins-will appreciate the brief, historical descriptions found on the book's last page. An altogether intriguing collection. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 6 to 9.

Larios's poems, some with rhyme, draw vivid verbal pictures of fourteen imaginary creatures, from dragon and mermaid to gargoyle and phoenix. She asks of a centaur, "Can he be half man, half horse?/ The answer is no./ And yes, of course." Hobgoblins "do the chores." The Sphinx, "The riddle maker/ is silent now." We even meet naga of the seven heads from Southeast Asia. The gouache paintings of the visual versions of these creatures are far more fanciful, more complex, than the facing poetic texts. Each dominates a rectangle of appropriate color upon which are objects that elaborate on the narrative. The ugly Troll couple tends a large pot under a carved wooden bridge; upon the murky green background are the bugs and a rat that are mentioned. The Thunderbird's encapsulated gray patterns create a demanding design. Decorated initial upper case letters add information and help tie the text to the paintings. A final page adds information about each creature. Do not miss the endpapers. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz

School Library Journal

Gr 2-5- Dragons, centaurs, hobgoblins, and 11 other mythical creatures of worldwide origins feature in Larios's short poems and Paschkis's distinctive folk paintings. Caught for eternity in compromising situations, some creatures, such as the gargoyle, wax melancholy. "How can a beast fly/with stone wings?/I fly when the bells ring/and the hunchback is home ." As in Yellow Elephant: A Bright Bestiary (Harcourt, 2006), this bright compendium pairs each poem with a richly drawn and colored scene. An element from the painting is echoed in a decorative letter announcing the poem's title. Though brief, the selections sometimes carry sophisticated cultural references, making this title more relevant to an older audience than the earlier collection. Of the thunderbird, for instance, Larios writes, "Cedar scented,/he carries the wind/in his bent beak./Rainmaker./Whale hunter./Great Tlingit chief." The final page carries a brief paragraph describing the area of origin and the behavior of each creature. It's all a quick and alluring peek at some of the best-known denizens of folklore. Storytellers and classroom teachers will find many uses for these poetic nuggets and the art, both of which will be savored by folklore and fantasy readers of all ages.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

Kirkus Reviews
Using poems and pictures, this modern bestiary proves a fascinating introduction to mythical creatures from different cultures. Beginning with the ever-popular dragon and ending with the familiar phoenix, the collection also includes the less well-known Russian firebird, the Old Testament cockatrice, the British hobgoblin and will o' the wisp, the Egyptian sphinx and the Southeast Asian naga. Each creature is described in a poem capturing some of its unique features as well as its mystery. The mermaid is "part woman, part fish" who listens "to the waves break on the shore-half song, half roar," while the gargoyle is a beast "with a stone tongue, with a stone throat" whose "mouth is a rainspout." While the illustrations appropriately borrow elements from medieval illuminated manuscripts, including embellished capital letters, intricate curvilinear forms and brilliant colors, they also incorporate decorative forms from the cultural source. The firebird reflects Russian folk art; the trolls recall Nordic wood carvings; the thunderbird echoes tribal art of the Pacific Northwest. End-pages ingeniously unite the curious creatures providing the perfect start and finish to this little masterpiece. (glossary) (Picture book. 6-9)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547540665
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/01/2008
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
32
File size:
6 MB
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

JULIE LARIOS is the author of several picture books and is a prizewinning poet for children and adults. She is on the faculty of the Vermont College Writing for Children and Young Adults program and lives in Seattle, Washington.

JULIE PASCHKIS has illustrated numerous books for children and has had her paintings featured in many gallery shows. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

 

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