Mythical Birds and Beasts from Many Lands
Margaret Mayo. Dutton Books, $19.99 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45788-6
From mermaids to unicorns to phoenixes, the focus of this follow-up to Magical Tales from Many Lands is on those legendary creatures that have cast their spell on readers and listeners for centuries. Though several of the 10 selections here may be familiar (e.g., the tale of the Minotaur), most have been culled from less widely known sources, such as Native American lore from the Pacific Northwest, Burmese folk tales and Scandinavian storytelling traditions preserved in the Orkney Islands. Whether or not the tales strike the reader as wholly new, Mayo's energetically paced versions possess a lively intensity that never fails to entertain. Ray's boldly framed fantastical paintings, rendered in her characteristic style, often sparkle with flecks of gold and other jewel tones befitting the ethereal subjects. In addition to full-page works, Ray's smaller paintings, tiny spot illustrations or folk art borders and motifs generously decorate the text. Careful notes about each story, found on the book's final pages, make for intriguing reading and represent a wealth of research. This combination of folklore and mythology is a family library treasure, and also serves as an excellent introduction for readers who wish to explore these forms of world literature. All ages. (May) FYI: Ray's art can also be found illustrating the jacket of Lloyd Alexander's The Iron Ring (reviewed p. 76).
Reviewed on: 04/28/1997