A Natural History of Magical Beasts

Frances Lincoln. (Folklore Field Guides.). Sept. 2023. 64p. Tr $30. ISBN 9780711278820.
Gr 2-5–An impressive addition to the “Folklore Field Guide” series, Hawkins and Roux’s third collaboration draws readers into the world of magical beasts. Crafted as a scrapbooklike compilation of writings and illustrations that showcase the fictional Dr. Pagonis and assistant Miss Matsouka’s field notes about all manner of magical creatures, this is a book to savor. Brimming with fine, immersive illustrative details that sculpt a wide selection of creatures, every page describes the being’s habitat, behaviors, characteristics, and the dangers it faces from human actions. The book seeks to tie a thread of awareness about real-world connections between humans and the destruction of habitats or dwindling animal populations, though not all readers may note this theme among the mix of structured lists and description summaries. The collection features magical beings from multiple global regions, organized in a table of contents. Roux’s realistic touches, including stunning textures and contrasts developed between fine lines, surround the stylized texts, as do natural elements peeking around the papers’ edges. Framed with features of its habitat, each close-up portrayal of a creature takes center stage, rewarding the browser, while those with a firmer grasp of vocabulary can explore the text in-depth and differentiate references to the “modern world” and historical times in the depicted lore.
VERDICT Readers with keen interest in fantasy or fantastic beasts from around the world will devour the delightfully intricate illustrations and freely explore the scrapbooklike field notes that detail the creatures’ traits and habitats.

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