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A DIGNITY OF DRAGONS by Jacqueline K. Ogburn


Collective Nouns for Magical Beasts

by Jacqueline K. Ogburn & illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

Age Range: 11 - 15

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-618-86254-2
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Ceccoli’s art gives this companion to James Lipton’s classic Exaltation of Larks (“ultimate edition” 1991) a distinctly and appropriately otherworldly look. Ogburn’s evocative, self-invented collective terms for more than three-dozen magical creatures—such beasts as feng hwangs, quetzalcoatls and rainbow snakes join the usual Eurocentric suspects—float weightlessly on each spread next to groups of large-eyed, smoothly rounded humans and nonhumans awash in faint, subtle color changes. Every figure is pretty, but the illustrator staves off preciosity by injecting plenty of drama into her compositions—like a scary “riddle of sphinx” gazing down clinically on a small pilgrim or a ship of ancient design being attacked simultaneously by a “vengeance of harpies,” a “tangle of gorgons” and a (bare-breasted) “chord of sirens.” Enthralling fare for addicts of myth and fantasy, with short background notes on each type of creature at the end. (Picture book/reference. 11-15)