MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES

A CLASSICAL BESTIARY

This is not so much a “bestiary” as a diverse gallery of figures from Greek mythology that are particularly suited to Curlee’s distinctive, neoclassical style of illustration. He chooses 16 subjects, ranging from gryphons and centaurs to Pan, Argus (depicted weirdly as a man with eyes all over his body), Poseidon’s fish-tailed son Triton and Talus, the bronze giant that guarded Crete. Aside from several notable exceptions like the gaping, gory head of Medusa, which stares stonily up from the page and will likely give many viewers the willies, all are posed in heroic profile and strongly, solidly modeled. The text facing each full-page portrait supplies physical descriptions, as well as abbreviated but clear versions of relevant myths. Curlee wraps the contents in a context-setting Prologue and Epilogue, so the entire volume not only provides an engrossing visual experience, but serves up a coherent early introduction to the range and purposes of these ancient tales. (Folklore. 8-10)

Pub Date: March 4, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-1453-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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For Where’s Waldo? graduates who are ready for heavy-duty irony.

SUPER HAPPY MAGIC FOREST

From the Super Happy Magic Forest series

In the full-color world of Super Happy Magic Forest, everyone recognizes what evil looks like…or do they?

This over-the-top happy place with fun, dancing, and picnics every day maintains its positive energy because of three Mystical Crystals of Life. After a two-sentence exposition, readers learn that someone has stolen the crystals, throwing all the forest inhabitants into panic. The five bravest warriors, including the reluctant Blossom, a unicorn, and Trevor, a red-and-white mushroom, go in search of the culprit, only to find in the end that their arduous journey has been for naught. In this debut picture book, Long fills nearly every page with details that will keep young readers engaged and interested: a penguin distraught over losing the frying pan it evidently uses as a cudgel, a gravestone bearing the name of one of the warriors, a headless skeleton preparing to decapitate the clueless Blossom. Some pages will remind readers of the Smurfs’ village—another superhappy place—while others seem to take a page from video game journeys, with many twists and turns. In the end, though, this book that exudes youthfulness and joy delivers quite a cynical message: sometimes those in whom we’ve placed the most trust can betray us. And when they do, they should expect a comeuppance sans mercy.

For Where’s Waldo? graduates who are ready for heavy-duty irony. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-86059-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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Should make a huge splash with young mariners and monster lovers alike.

ARE SEA MONSTERS REAL?

From the Penguin Young Readers series

A rousing gallery of toothy and tentacled terrors of the past and present.

Along with creatures of legend, from the leviathan and the kraken to Nessie, Chessie (who supposedly lives in the Chesapeake Bay), and Champy (an alleged resident of Lake Champlain), Clarke describes with bone-crushing relish a selection of “Real-Life” and “Wannabe Sea Monsters”—such as prehistoric Dunkleosteus, which “had the strongest jaws of any fish ever. Slice! Dice!” (“It could have crushed a human like a bug!” the author continues.) While it may be stretching a point to link the Hydra of Homeric myth to the giant Pacific octopus, Clarke’s claims that supposed mermaids were really manatees or Steller’s sea cows and that kraken were giant squid are at least feasible…and there would likely be few to argue with her closing claim that Megalodon was “the scariest sea monster of all time.” With a few exceptions the accompanying mix of photos, digital art, and public domain prints seems staid in comparison, but the narrative, laced as it is with “Crunch! Munch!” sound effect words, injects more than enough melodrama to make up for the visuals.

Should make a huge splash with young mariners and monster lovers alike. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-38394-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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