Review Blog

Oct 28 2020

The book of mythical beasts and magical creatures by Stephen Krensky

cover image

Illus. by Pham Quang Phuc. D.K. Publishing, 2020. ISBN: 9780241423950.
(Age: 8+) Highly recommended. The information on the back cover informs readers that they will "meet favourite monsters, fairies, heroes, and tricksters from all around the world" and they certainly will. This excellent, well produced book will delight fans of myths and legends and inform those who are looking to find information about the mythical world.
The book is split into 8 chapters: Our Mysterious World, Good and Evil, Tricksters, Shape-Shifters, Almost Human, Creatures of the Deep, Winged Wonders, and Beasts of the World, each one subdivided with the names of the creatures featured. At the back of the book is an A-Z of the creatures with the meaning of their name and a short paragraph about their origin. There is also a glossary and Index as well as Acknowledgements, all ensuring that this is a reference book that is easily accessible to a person who wants to research one of the mythical creatures, while those who like to flick through will also find themselves stopping and reading constantly.
After the Introduction, the first creature featured is Ymir, in Norse mythology the first frost giant. There is a beautiful illustration on half of the double page spread and then a page describing their importance for Norse mythology. This format is followed throughout the book which features creatures from all over the world in each section. There is the Dirawong, "a protective lizard-like creature of Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime", Taniwha, mythical being of Maori legend, and Garuda, "noble winged creature from Hindu mythology", to mention just a few. To make the book even more helpful, the reader is lead to other similar myths from a See also section at the bottom of the page.
Readers are going to be able to quickly research individual creatures and read up on ones that they may have heard about but did not know much about. For example, the information about the Wendigo, "legendary evil spirit with a taste for human flesh" answered all my questions about this creature.
The illustrations are fabulous. I particularly loved the red Kraken that terrorises sailors, and Tengu, a bird-like creature from Japanese folklore, jumped out of the page with his scary long nose and handful of fire.
This is a must have for fans of myths and legends, with its well laid out, easy to read and understand information and would be a very useful reference book in the classroom and library.
Pat Pledger

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