Questionable Creatures

Overview

Bestiaries are the most gloriously entertaining books to have come from the Middle Ages. Written and illuminated by monks, they describe every creature thought to exist in the medieval world and include all manner of fish, fowl, and mythological beast, however far-fetched.

Pauline Baynes, whose original line illustrations for J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are known to millions, has revived twenty medieval and ...

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Overview

Bestiaries are the most gloriously entertaining books to have come from the Middle Ages. Written and illuminated by monks, they describe every creature thought to exist in the medieval world and include all manner of fish, fowl, and mythological beast, however far-fetched.

Pauline Baynes, whose original line illustrations for J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are known to millions, has revived twenty medieval and mischievous beasts, basing her tongue-in-cheek descriptions on various English bestiaries. Her delightful recreations of these fabulous beasts -- from phoenix to manticore, from bonnacon to yale -- hop, swoop, and gallop through the pages in antique splendor and will charm today's readers as readily as they astounded audiences centuries ago.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
School Library Journal
"This book will be a coveted resource for mythology buffs who loved Ernest Drake's Dragonology."

Kirkus Reviews
"This menagerie will provide a rousing, if somewhat more narrowly focused, alternative to Jonathan Hunt's Bestiary, as well as a springboard for young imaginations."

Booklist
"Baynes captures the worldview of medieval illuminists in handsome illustrations reflecting her distinctive expressions of form and movement. Eye-catching and engaging."

Horn Book Magazine
"A fascinating glimpse of how our illiterate ancestors accumulated and thought about information — and misinformation. . . . Bayne's agile calligraphic line, swirling compositions, and lustrous colors nicely recall their medieval forebears."

Children's Literature - Sheryl O'Sullivan
Written and illustrated by the award-winning illustrator of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it is not surprising that the illustrations in this book based upon ancient monastic manuscripts are beautifully done and compelling. The text, however, is just as compelling as the pictures, as it names and enumerates the qualities of such bestiary creatures as lions, camels, satyrs, gryphons, and unicorns. All of these creatures were thought to be real by the medieval authors of bestiaries, and even those animals which we now know to exist were given magical qualities we no longer believe in. For example, hyenas were "said to change their gender every year." Both the illustrations and the text have been well-researched, and are presented in such a way that they represent the antiquity of the medieval manuscripts upon which they are based. While the book is lavishly illustrated, however, it would not be appropriate for the picture book age group. The text contains many adult references that would be inappropriate and incomprehensible to young children. Adult readers, though, will find the book fascinating and worthwhile.
Kirkus Reviews
As untamed as the creatures she depicts, Baynes introduces more than two dozen animals real and fantastical-all drawn from medieval European sources-with often eyebrow-raising comments on their grosser habits, as well as the various medicines and aphrodisiacs that could, purportedly, be made from their parts. Some entries, such as the horse and the crocodile, are more likely to be observed in real life than the likes of satyrs, manticores or bonnacons, but none will be totally recognizable. That crocodile, for instance, not only sports red legs and a cow-like head in the finely detailed, manuscript-style portrait, but also produces dung that makes "old women and faded whores" appear beautiful. From the lion, whose cubs are supposedly born dead but licked to life by the male, to the phoenix, dubbed "the first example of resurrection, regeneration, and cloning," this menagerie will provide a rousing, if somewhat more narrowly focused, alternative to Jonathan Hunt's Bestiary (1998), as well as a springboard for young imaginations. (source list of manuscripts) (Folklore. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802852847
  • Publisher: Eerdmans Publishing Co.
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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