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Review: Graphical Mythical Creatures

With YA literature so steeped in werewolves, vampires, and dragons these days, it’s no wonder that publishers aimed at the school and library markets are jumping on the bandwagon. This series, aimed at young elementary school readers, is a good introduction to the topic.

Graphical Mythical Creatures
Written by Jeffrey, Gary.
(Set 1 – 6 volumes ISBN 1-4339-6082-6)

Dragons                                               ISBN 978-1-4339-6031-4                Illustrated by Verma, Dheeraj.
Giants                                                   ISBN 978-1-4339-6034-5                Illustrated by Spender, Nick.
Ogres                                                    ISBN 978-1-4339-6037-6                Illustrated by Field, James.
Sea Monsters                                    ISBN 978-1-4339-6041-3                Illustrated by Riley, Terry.
Trolls                                                     ISBN 978-1-4339-6045-1                Illustrated by Field, James.
Werewolves                                      ISBN 978-1-4339-6049-9             Illustrated by Jeffrey, Gary & Shone, Rob
Gareth Stevens Publishing.  S&L price $17.95 (HC)  Set Price $107.70,       24 p. each.
Recommended for grades 2 & up

Each volume in this series follows the same basic format.  It features a topic overview that shows photos and illustrations of the mythical creatures with short tidbits of history, a story (told in comic form) featuring the mythical creature, and finally, very short paragraphs on other famous (and not so famous) tales that feature the creature. The books also conclude with a glossary and an index (which seems unnecessary.)

I really liked the concept of the books, but I had a few problems with them.  First of all, for $17.95 (even the e-book format costs this much), and no paperback alternative, I felt there just wasn’t enough.  If all the books had been bound into one volume for the same price or better yet, if there had been more than one story featuring the mythical creature, I would have been much more satisfied. As it goes, it just seemed like too little.

The artwork in the books was adequate, but it didn’t really stand out.  It seems like this was done as a hack job, rather than the labor of love that so many comic authors and illustrators show for their work.

What I like about this series is the topic overviews.  The illustrations were well chosen and give you a quick but solid sense of what these creatures are and how they are so steeped into our history.  The stories illustrated in comic form were also well chosen.

This series is best for libraries and parents in need of feeding their young voracious readers to the pop culture phenomenon of mythical creatures, or teachers, librarians, or parents in need of something for struggling or ESL readers.  For libraries struggling financially, I might skip this series.  I wish they had offered this in paperback.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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