Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book!

Getty Publications. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781947440043.
Gr 1-3–Young Godfrey’s parents are peasant farmers working for the lord of a castle in medieval England. When his mother asks him to lend a hand by milking the cow, feeding the chickens, spreading straw, picking pears, raking leaves, and building the fire for supper, she also warns him not to bother the artist who is painting a Book of Beasts for the lady of the castle. Godfrey ties his makeshift sword—a sturdy forked twig—at his rope-belted waist, then stops momentarily to examine a book that entices him from a castle alcove, taking it with him to the delight of the smiling artist watching unseen from behind. Godfrey cannot read, but he can invent stories to tell his animals—the piglet, kittens, dog, hens, and chicks—as he completes his chores. He imagines wrestling the huge escaped lion from the book to the ground; tames a unicorn with a pear; terrorizes a griffin that’s after the unicorn; and pushes a stinky bonnacon into a running stream. Then, reaching his family’s small stone house, he confronts a gigantic dragon and remembers that he must build a fire for supper. The detailed full-page illustrations that flow through the book will pull children into its unusual, engaging story, whether or not they can read the brief text. Short articles on Books and Beasts, Life in an English Castle, and The Bestiary are appended.
VERDICT A charming introduction to medieval culture for young children.

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