It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (brainchild of Sheila at BookJourney). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
Last Week’s Review and Miscellany Posts
Here are a few of the reviews we have done last week. We are also inviting everyone to join our Award-Winning-Books Reading Challenge. We hosted the AWB Challenge last year and we are thrilled to be able to host it again. Do sign up if you are looking for exciting reading challenges with monthly book prizes. Click on the titles/images below to be taken to our blog posts.
For our opening salvo, let me share with you two picture books that feature bestiaries and monsters from around the globe.
The Hidden Bestiary of Marvelous, Mysterious, and (maybe even) Magical Creatures
Story By: Judy Young
Illustrated by: Laura Francesca Filippucci
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2009
Borrowed from the library. Book photos taken by me.
This gorgeously illustrated book is a menagerie of creatures both rare, mysterious, and in some cases imaginary. Highly ‘esteemed explorer’ Basil Bernard Barnswhitten is an intrepid scientist in search for elusive truths as he collects facts and documents connected to a report he is writing entitled “Animal Curiosities, Oddities and Improbabilities I have Known and Discovered.” And so, this fearless adventurer travels to places as remote as the Yangtze River in China to the arid wastelands of Arabia and the mountainous islands of Mauritius – in search of creatures such as the Chinese River Dolphin, the Phoenix, the now-extinct Dodo just to name a few.
While the rhyming text did not appeal much to me, I was fascinated by the illustrations and the beasts intelligently concealed in this seemingly-surreal landscape of Kraken-beasts populated with the likes of the Loch Ness Monster, Jackalope and Basilisk alongside the endangered Whooping Crane and now-extinct Tasmanian Tiger.
There is also a Field Guide found at the end of the book that would be helpful for inquisitive young minds who would like to do a little exploring of their own.
The Gruesome Guide to World Monsters
Story By: Judy Sierra
Pictures by: Henrik Drescher
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2005
Bought my own copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
I bought this book during the Singapore Library Warehouse Sale and I am glad that I finally found the opportunity to read this. The Introduction provides an overview of this field guide to monsters of the world. Think of this as a kind of twisted travel guide. Instead of getting boring information about museums, hotels, restaurants and such, you get a smorgasbord of information about monsters that crawl, swim, or fly in specific areas of the globe, namely North America, Central and South America, europe, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific.
The descriptions of the monster also come with a Gruesomeness Rating from Frightening (1 Skull – The monster is scary but not life-threatening) to Fatal (5 Skulls – Once this monster sees you, it’s too late). It also comes with a Survival Tip that range from the helpful such as using a holly leaf for the Sisiutl (found in the Pacific Northwest, gruesomeness rating 4) or touching the monster’s left armpit in the case of Ovda (found in Finland, Gruesomeness Rating 2),
or a “You’re on your own” survival tip in the case of a Junn found in North and Central Africa (Gruesomeness Rating: 5) I even found several monsters from the Philippines such as the mansusopsop (also known as a manananggal if I am not mistaken) and a sigbin.
I did not find any monster from Singapore, but there were several from Malaysia, Japan, India, China among others.
While the illustrations proved strikingly colorful and gruesome enough, I would have liked a more realistic portrayal of the monsters that would clearly differentiate them, say, from harmless humans or victims that were also shown in the illustrations. As a field guide, I would have wanted to know how the creatures may have actually looked like rather than a largely surreal depiction of the monster. Then again, perhaps, this might be more appealing to children as the target market.
Still reading A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin. I loved reading more about the ironborns, kingsmoots, and other minor characters that are slowly becoming more full-bodied in this book, particularly Asha Greyjoy. I am nearly halfway done with the book, but very little about Daenerys Targaryen so far.
Read-a-Latte Challenge Update: 184, 185 (150)