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Not an investigation into fabulous lore, as was McHargue's The Beasts of Never (1968), this is rather a showcase of mythical animals, represented in Jewel-like portraits by Beisner and matching ones by Lurie, who describes the beasts as if they actually exist: ""Fortunately, this terrible creature [the basilisk] is terrified of three things""; ""The fire-dwelling Salamanders are much valued by alchemists""; ""the largest bird ever seen on earth is the Roe of Madagascar and the Indian Ocean."" Among the oddest members of this fanciful menagerie are the vegetable lamb or Barometz, which resembles a young sheep and grazes on grass, yet grows out of the earth from a seed and remains attached to a stalk all its life--and the tree goose or clayk, which hatches on the sea from a melon-like fruit: ""Though no one has been able to agree whether it is fruit, fish or fowl, it often used to be eaten during Lent."" The unicorn, griffin, phoenix, and dragon are all present. In her preface Lurie coyly suggests that they might be real and still alive after all. But this companion to The Heavenly Zoo (1980) doesn't try to make them real; more suitably, it makes them enchantingly fabulous.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1982
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux