REVIEW: Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book! by Julie Berry
It’s no ordinary day at the castle! This beautifully illustrated, silly picture book is a fun introduction to the medieval world and the illuminated bestiary
Godfrey, a peasant boy who works for the lord and lady of the castle, finds a bestiary, or illustrated book of beasts, on the way to do his chores one morning. He begins inventing his own story, placing “Sir Godfrey” at the center of numerous heroic deeds. Sir Godfrey battles a lion, tames a unicorn, defeats a griffin, conquers a bonnacon, and triumphs over a dragon. Godfrey does not realize that each time he says the name of an animal, it magically emerges from the book, causing mayhem and inadvertently accomplishing his chores. The laughs pile up and the tension mounts: When will Godfrey realize that all this outrageous stuff is going on?
This book also contains engaging backmatter with information on life in the Middle Ages and a mini-bestiary drawn from original 13th-century manuscripts. Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book! is a humorous introduction to the medieval world.
Dear Ms. Berry,
I’m assuming that this book is being published as a sort of companion to this earlier one, “Book of Beasts,” which is a scholarly examination of medieval bestiaries.
“Don’t Let the Beasties Escape This Book!,” however, is aimed towards children and shows a bit of what a bestiary actually was, what beasts might be found in one and what they did, as well as showing young Godfrey on an “adventure” that he makes up as the day goes along. I enjoyed his imagination as he seeks to impress the castle kittens, piggy, dog and chickens with his prowess all while inadvertently letting loose some potentially terrifying beasties. It’s also fun to watch how they manage to get Godfrey’s chores done for him and his reaction when he realizes just what he’s let loose. I did hope to see a bit of remorse on his part for what he did and some character growth in regard to not actually doing anything that his mother had asked him to do. Especially since it’s made clear that young Godfrey has slacked off in the past. Alas, I didn’t see any of that.
But what is there are some absolutely gorgeous illustrations that are a joy to see and that I’ve gone back and reexamined – along with reading the book again – several times. B+ for those while a C for Godfrey’s failure to achieve any of his chores and no remorse about that.