http://www.garethstevens.com/expand.asp?ProductCode=978-1-4339-6798-6The second set in the Graphic Mythic Creatures series follows the same pattern as that of the first: six slender twenty-four page hard cover books that focus on one category of mythical creature, some less familiar than others: mermaids, vampires, unicorns. centaurs, goblins, and firebirds. Gary Jeffrey has again written all of the books and Dheeraj Verma returns to illustrate three of the titles (Vampires, Goblins, and Unicorns). New to the series are Sara Cappoli (Firebirds), Emanuelle Boccanfuso (Mermaids) and Alessandro Poluzzi (Centaurs).

Each volume consists of one major story involving the mythical creature, brief basic background information regarding the creatures, and suggestions for more stories to find, but without any direction to the intended young reader on where to find these additional resources. Each volume begins with a table of contents and concludes with a glossary and an index. These books would be more helpful for educators and librarians if source notes for the stories and additional readings were included, although young readers won’t notice their absence.

Stories included in this series are the medieval tale of “Therese and the Unicorn,” “Hercules and the Centaur” from Greek mythology, the ancient Celtic vampire tale of “Abhartach’s Sepulcher,” “The Mermaid’s Comb” from Cornwall, “The Goblin at the Mill” from Germany, and the ubiquitous Russian tale of “Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Wolf.” While the stories all contain the creatures advertized in the individual titles, the focus on many of these retellings is on the human characters and their encounters with the fabulous rather than an illumination of the creatures themselves. In “Therese and the Unicorn” and “Prince Ivan, the Firebird, and the Wolf,” the two human characters demonstrate an empathetic relationship with the mythic creatures. In other stories, the old man who rescues the Mermaid and her comb is amply rewarded for his kindness, and Hercules, after wounding his old teacher Chiron, has him immortalized as the constellation Sagittarius. The evil goblins and vampires do not fare as well in their encounters, however.

The individual stories cover approximately sixteen pages with, for the most part, two large colourful panels on each page. Varied hues of mainly blues, yellows, and occasionally reds dominate the pages of most of the books. The action is somewhat stilted and the facial expressions static throughout the series. There is an abundance of caption boxes and a limited use of speech balloons in the rendering of the folkloric tales retold by Jeffers and the illustrators, which aids the wooden delivery. These quibbles aside, I have seen how young readers are drawn to the books and the folklore that encompass the creatures in each of the volumes.

Graphic Mythical Creatures series, set 2
by Gary Jeffrey
Art by Dheeraj Verma , Sara Cappoli , Emanuelle Boccanfuso , Alessandro Poluzzi
Set ISBN: 1-4339-6798-7
Vampires ISBN: 978-1-4339-6771-9
Goblins ISBN: 978-1-4339-6759-7
Firebirds ISBN: 978-1-4339-6755-9
Centaurs ISBN: 978-1-4339-6751-1
Mermaids ISBN: 978-1-4339-6763-4
Unicorns ISBN: 978-1-4339-6767-2
Gareth Stevens, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: 10

  • Gail

    | She/Her Professor, Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta

    Reviewer

    In addition to teaching at the School of Library and Information Studies (University of Alberta) where she is an adjunct professor, Gail tells stories and conducts workshops on a wide variety of topics across Canada and the United States. Each year she teaches the following courses for the University of Alberta. All of her courses are delivered online: Storytelling, Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries, Canadian Children’s Literature for School and Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. She also teaches a course on Indigenous Literature for the ATEP program (Aboriginal Teacher Education Program) at the University of Alberta. Gail is the award-winning author of nine books on storytelling and folklore in popular culture.

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