I love bestiaries. I love the illuminations, and the weird descriptions of creatures, and the entire concept of a book full of wonderful beasts! This picture book is a lovely introduction to some of the fantasy creatures you might meet in the pages of a real-life bestiary.
Book: Don’t Let The Beasties Escape This Book! by Julie Berry, illustrated by April Lee
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided free of charge by NetGalley. All opinions my own.
Visually, this book is a real treat, and I spent a long time looking at each page to capture all the details. The colours are incredible. You can see from the cover image how bright and enthralling they are – it’s really pretty and also very true to the actual look of an illuminated manuscript. The dusty brown of the courtyard evokes the parchment pages, and the beasts absolutely shine out from it, holding the eye and the imagination.
The story itself is very sweet, involving Geoffrey, a young boy who “borrows” a bestiary from a scribe and spends the rest of the day making up tales about a knight with his name who meets the beasties from the pages! As he mentions each beast, it pops out of the bestiary and comes to life, but Geoffrey is oblivious… It’s not a particularly convoluted plot, but it works to show off the creatures, and is, in a way, a bestiary itself! There’s a lot of subtle humour in the story, which I think would make this appeal to adults as well as children, and there’s plenty of charm in the writing. It would make a really cute gift, especially for historians who have young kids!
Five out of five cats!