Last week I got a hamster.
My first and only pet.
He mostly eats and sleeps and hides.
And gets his shavings wet.
If only I could have a pet
With strange, exotic powers,
I know that I’d find lots to do
To while away the hours.
While walking around the book store last week "If I had a Gryphon" caught my eye. It’s not very often you see a children’s book with a creature of mythology in the title. Having a few little ones of my own I was interested in the book immediately. After flipping through the pages I decided I would marinate a bit on the purchase. Later that day I checked and Amazon had a good deal so I ordered.
The book arrived this afternoon and my children all quickly took turns digesting it. They enjoyed the story of Sam who just got a pet hamster, but wished it was something else. Sam thinks the hamster is boring and her imagination takes a hold of her, dreaming the hamster was a series of magical beasts instead. As a long time gamer I was genuinely impressed with the cadre of monsters represented in this book. Everything from a hippogriff to a manticore is mentioned.
In typical fashion for a book targeting children ages 3-7, the verses in the story rhyme. The illustrations are not scary and have fun vibe to them. The entire work is 32 pages, which honestly seems like some sort of artificial target number. The second half of the book crams multiple creatures into a few short pages. Unlike earlier on, where monsters are given a full page or more, this was a disappointment. The last creature touched upon is a mermaid and the verse does not even rhyme. This almost corroborates the idea that the writer was pressed for space.
Overall I think this is a good pickup for any gamers that have young children. It’s like a miniature Monster Manual with well over a dozen mythical creatures. The actual book is constructed very well and with young children the images are almost more important than the words. My five year old poured over it much longer then her older siblings. If I had to assign a rating I would give it three stars out of five. What seems like a great premise is almost hastily completed toward the end.
Should you purchase it? Again, if your kids enjoy fantasy then yes. Or if you are looking for a gift for a young reader it would be a good choice. Adding to a child’s vocabulary and learning about magical beasts of mythology is a good thing. After all, how often do they get to say words like chimera or harpy?
Author: Vikki VanSickle
Artist: Cale Atkinson
Age Range: 3 - 7 years
Grade Level: Preschool - 2
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Tundra Books (February 9, 2016)