Children’s Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters

Just for a change (and since I seem to be building up an archive of helpful children’s books as well as just good ones!), I thought I’d start reviewing some non-fiction books too, and this is one of my favs…

Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 9781405367929
Published: 1/9/2011

This is gorgeous. Simply gorgeous, I tells ya. The amount of pictures crammed into this is really quite astonishing and they’re all of very high quality.

The book covers pretty much all mythical beasties from all countries: it’s incredibly detailed. For example, I studied History at Uni, and my final year dissertation was on Das Nibelungenlied, the German equivalent of our own King Arthur story. I like to think of it as King Arthur meets Lord of the Rings, it’s that sort of scale of epic. However, this story is not exactly well know outside of opera buffs and German folklore fans (ahem). So, guess what I found in this book?

Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters

Das Nibelungenlied, complete with Brunhilde the Valkyrie. Please excuse the flash marks, mad camera skillz are sadly not exactly in my repertoire as yet.

That’s right, there it is – das Nibelungenlied, complete with pictures of Valkyries!

As mentioned, the whole book is set out in themes, with each of these themes then split still further into more. So you end up with central themes such as Nature, Myths and Mayhem and Quests and Battles, and then you get these subdivided into more detailed pages on Robin Hood, Norse gods, going for gold, shapeshifters etc etc. So rather than just finding Germany’s myths for example, you’ll find German gods rubbing shoulders with Japanese elemental beasties and sitting across the table from Scandinavian Nokken. While this is rather irritating if you need to research a particular country’s myths and legends, it does give a rather nice look at just how universal some themes can be, regardless of which country you’re in. One excellent example of this is the double page spread just on flood stories, including the Christian tradition of Noah. These sorts of pages are awfully good for going off on a tangent, which I reckon can usually lead to good things.

Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters

Hidden Folk – yet another beautifully illustrated page, this one being part of a double page spread, like the Flood stories one mentioned above.

The book does go into details of particular myths too, but usually when they’re about a central mythical figure. So if you’re looking for general information on a Greek myth, this is probably not the best book to use, however if you want to know all about Proteus in particular, this book is ideal.

It even gives you things to do with your new-found knowledge of all things mythical – take a peek at this one below. Such a good idea for parents, guardians or teachers looking for a way to make a lesson more practical while still relevant to the topic.

Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters

One such project – teachers take note!

The one thing I’d say against this book other than it being difficult to use to research by country is that although the pictures are splendid and plentiful, none of them have credits listed. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, although if you wanted to use a particular picture for a project this could be a bit of an annoyance.

That said though, this is still a beautiful book and one I happily keep on my bookshelves. Just stunning to look through and so easy to get drawn into with those specially grouped themes. Highly recommended for any class or bedroom.

Find it here


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