Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer

Monsters and Mythical Creatures from Around the World

Creative researcher Heather Frigiola approaches beasts of lore as cultural artifacts in Monsters and Mythical Creatures from Around the World, illustrated by Sky Cybele (creator of The Mythical Creatures Oracle).

In her introduction, Frigiola explains that many myths have come to their current forms through cultural blending or appropriation, but she aims to examine them in the context of their origins. Instead of categorizing by habitat or appearance, she separates the monsters into 10 geographical regions represented by 24 entries each. Western readers will find the chapters on mythos-dense Ancient Greece and Rome, and fairy-tale origin point Western Europe mostly familiar, but readers from all over the globe might spot familiar fanged faces in chapters on North and Latin America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific.

In Cybele's color illustrations, a roc flies home to her chicks with an elephant as dinner; a blue, fork-tongued Tiamat brandishes snakes at readers; and a dog-headed, purple-winged simurgh perches peacefully in the treetops. Frigiola's accessible overviews explain each creature's appearance, behavior and the known evolution of its history. Most, like the Greek gorgon or Slavic kikimora, are magical creatures from ancient myth or folklore, while others, such as the Khaiyr Monster, originate in sightings that, though debunked, nevertheless achieved legendary status.

Intended as a sampler rather than a comprehensive listing, Monsters and Mythical Creatures from Around the World will intrigue fantasy readers and casual consumers of mythology, leaving them wishing for additional volumes of captivating creatures. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads