By Julie Berry
Illustrated by April Lee
Published on: September 10, 2019
Oh my goodness – The pictures in this book are absolutely gorgeous. The colors are rich and vivid and just wonderful to look at.
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.
One of the first things I noticed in this medieval-times picture book was the font. Different picture books often use different fonts based on the story – some have a whimsical touch, some are more standard. But here at the beginning, as we are introduced to the tale “neglected chores” a font you might usually associate with medieval times is used. It’s really quite a small thing, but a nice touch and helps put the reader into the middle-ages setting.
The story revolves around Godfrey, his chores, the nearby bestiary book being painted, and his day-dreaming of becoming a knight. He picks up the book – because let’s be honest a picture book of beautiful beasts is a lot more interesting than chores – and begins to daydream. But what’s fun is how Godfrey’s daydreams use the animals from the book to actually do the chores for him and not he-himself that finishes the chores. I even learned more about the mythical creature the bonnacon, which is one I am not as familiar with as I might be a dragon or unicorn.
At the end of this book, the author provides some information about bestiary books and what they might have been printed on as well as what life might have been like in a castle. At the end is also a complete list of the beasts in the bestiary with a description of both what they looked like as well as their characteristics.
Rating: 4 stars
Thanks to Netgalley and Getty Publications for the reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.