July 22, 2011

More Field Guides (Part II)

        Back in November I listed a selection of Field Guides to the Creatures of Fantasy, but since then I keep finding more, so it's time for a supplementary list.  Some of these focus more on the myths and legends, while some make more of a pretense of non-fiction.  Some focus on traditional "information," while some are newly imagined, but they're all great celebrations of the fauna of the human imagination.

     The Book of Dragons & Other Mythical Beasts, by Joseph Nigg.  A nice collection of critters from all around the world.  And any book that includes the Bishop Fish has got to be good.
     How to Raise and Keep a Dragon, by Edward Topsell (i.e. Joseph Nigg).  This is a cute "non-fiction" style book, right up P and T's alley as they pretend to raise pet dragons of their own.  P points out that there aren't any other books quite like this,
and T says the only thing she doesn't like about it is that she can't really buy a dragon.  Myself, I think the concept of dragons is ruined when they become mere pets, but this is still a fun book.
     Bestiary, by Jonathan Hunt.  As its subtitle says, An Illuminated Alphabet of Medieval Beasts.  P really likes this one, somewhat to my surprise, since it's got less "information" than some.  What it does have are large illustrations set in attractive medieval-style borders, and a mix of animals that includes some more unusual ones in order to fill out the letters of the alphabet.
     Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black.  This is based on the Spiderwick Chronicles series, which never really caught on at our house, so some of the "information" is fairly specific to those stories.  Neverthless, this has great illustrations and lots of fun tidbits of imagination that make it enjoyable to look at independent of the tie-in.
     The Essential Worldwide Monster Guide, by Linda Ashman.  This is actually a book of humorous poems about thirteen mythological creatures from around the world.  Several of the monsters were new to me, which is always fun, but despite the title there was very little actual information about each monster.
     Dragons: A Natural History, by Karl Shuker.  This book is good for slightly older children, at least eight or nine, I'd say, since it's a bit more scholarly.  I really liked the format of information about various dragonoids intermixed with legends from around the world.  Quite a few of the legends were previously unknown to me [and gave me all kinds of interesting ideas].  I also liked that the illustrations were gathered from all sorts of historical sources, from medieval illuminated documents, to antique photographs, to artifacts from around the world.  On the other hand, P and T seemed to like this one less than I did.

        I'm sure I'll have more to add to my growing list eventually, and until then, Enjoy!

[Pictures: cover of Bestiary by Jonathan Hunt, Simon & Schuster, 1998;
cover of Dragons: a Natural History by Karl Shuker, Simon & Schuster, 1995.]

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