John Harris, Photographer , illus. by Calef Brown. Getty Publications $16.95 (, $16.95 ISBN ) ISBN 0-89236-618-4

This unsatisfying compendium profiles mythical creatures, from dangerous ("Scylla consisted of twelve dogs that never stopped barking") to darling ("Everyone loves a Unicorn!"). A rooster-headed, dragon-bodied Basilisk, shown trotting across a volcanic landscape, kills with an angry glance: "One look from him/ and whammo!—you're dead./ …/ (And that's where we get the strange expression a basilisk gaze.)" Prancing fauns cause a literal "Pan-ic," since "Pan… liked to jump out from behind a bush or rock and scare people—Booo!" Harris, a senior editor at Getty Publications, offers pithy remarks on the animals' weird features, but gives the actual myths short shrift. He mentions only that "Cerberus had a run-in with the hero Hercules" (a few pages later, readers learn the Cyclops Polyphemus "had... a run-in with Odysseus") and that "Bellerophon and Pegasus had many neat adventures"; dated slang like "way out" seems as antiquated as the Minotaur. On the other hand, the hippie lingo complements the artwork, which favors groovy shades of sour-apple green, turquoise blue and terracotta orange. In Brown's (Polkabats and Octopus Slacks) portraits, a centaur sports a pompadour and leather vest, and the caftan-wearing Sirens resemble 1960s folk rockers. Such an oddball approach could be entertaining, yet the volume feels incomplete; in addition to the mythic characters' sketchy backgrounds, a concluding quiz asks for just 11 of the 20 figures, and a pronunciation guide lists some words and not others. Ages 9-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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