Kenyon Cox originally wrote the clever verse used in this book in 1904, and actually published a “Mixed Beasts” book of his own. “Mixed Beasts” are created by combining two words with overlapping letters. For example, put “Peanut” and “Nuthatch” together and the result is the “Peanuthatch”, a funny looking bird that leaves in a paper bag and whose back-end is a peanut shell.
Wallace Edwards, a Canadian author and illustrator, has taken the text as an inspiration and created some beautiful illustrations. He has also added many layers of interest by hiding extra “exotic” flora and fauna in each picture, all carefully referenced in an appendix. The structure of the book is that Professor Julius Duckworth O’Hare, Esq. has travelled the world to document the 13 main Mixed Beasts in this “illustrated field guide”. However, younger readers do not really need to understand this setup to enjoy the book – though older readers will find an extra joke by following the professor carefully as he appears in each illustration.
A great way of exposing young children to poetry, my only qualification would be that this should not be considered as a bedtime book for all children due to the bizarre nature of some of the animals. My husband was concerned that our 3 year old would find the “Lewis Carroll” type creatures scary, but she loved the book, and continues to go through it looking for extra hidden creatures and plants.
Christian Content: None
Parental Heads-Up: Some young children may find the combinations a little bizarre, so it should not be considered a bedtime storybook