cover image Fabulous Monsters

Fabulous Monsters

Marcia Williams. Candlewick Press (MA), $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0791-3

As in her earlier works, Williams's (The Iliad and the Odyssey; Greek Myths for Young Children) comic-strip style pictures--riddled with silly asides and puns--put a playful spin on myth, making potentially unwieldy material accessible. Captions under each picture recount the tale, while thought balloons inject irony and wit. For instance, in one panel, a soothsayer tells Bellerophon to enlist Pegasus's aid in order to defeat the fire-breathing Chimera. But the soothsayer's corresponding thought balloon adds a touch of comedy: ""You'll never catch Pegasus, but you'll die if you don't!"" Bellerophon replies, ""Thanks a lot, soothsayer!"" Williams similarly shines light on the Atlantic island-dwelling Basilisk, foul-smelling rooster and serpent hybrids; the bellowing Bunyips, who in Aboriginal mythology inhabit the Australian swamps; Isikukumanderu, a ravenous, river-dwelling creature in Bantu folklore; and Beowulf's Grendel. Williams creates visual variety with each story, changing the frames and shapes of the panels as well as the palette. Her beasts, true to tales of old, digest a number of humans before meeting their own grisly ends, yet the hyperbolic humor works to soften any images of violence (""Tasty tidbits!"" announces one satisfied monster as she munches on would-be slayers). Similarly, kids will happily devour this fare. Ages 5-10. (Oct.)