Sunday, August 11, 2019

Summer Reading 2019 Don't Let the Beasties Escape This Book!

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A picture book inspired by an exhibit at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Don't Let the Beasties Escape This Book! follows a medieval peasant boy named Godfrey through his day. Although his mother gives him a list of chores to do and reminds him that he must not forget any of them, Godfrey is distracted by the book being created for the lady of the castle. He borrows the book to look at the illuminated images inside and begins to make up a story about the beasts in the pictures. Godfrey doesn't realize that saying the names of the beasts will summon them from the book. A lion, unicorn, griffin, bonnacon, and dragon all appear as the tale of "Godfrey the Glorious" becomes more and more elaborate.  Luckily, even though Godfrey is distracted by the adventure he imagines, the creatures manage to complete all his chores for him without his notice - until the dragon lights the fire in the cottage.

Back matter includes an explanation of what a bestiary was, and about how life in a medieval castle worked. Families like Godfrey's would not have their own books, but would hear tales of fantastic beasts.  Those tales were a mix of true facts from distant explorers and myths and legends. Without cameras, television, and other media we are accustomed to today, people had no way of knowing which stories were true or not. Examples of various beasts shown in the books form the exhibit are shared along with descriptions of the beasts and their powers.

This would be a helpful book to use when talking about fake news. The comparison of tales from beastiaries and the incredible stories shared across social media and the Internet could start a discussion about what can be proven and what is only rumor. It is also a fun book just for the glimpse into medieval life and fantastic beasts. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

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