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Official Review: Fantasy Animals by Janis Kirstein
#1 by CataclysmicKnight
» Yesterday, 15:02
[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Fantasy Animals” by Janis Kirstein.]
3 out of 4 stars
Review by CataclysmicKnight
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Fantasy Animals by Janis Kirstein tells the tale of two very different animals in the Amazon rainforest: Vortex the anteater and Scoop the lion. Vortex is lighthearted, named after the hordes of ants he eats (and even counts!) while Scoop is fearsome and fast, named after how easily she can spring and scoop up her prey. What are such an unlikely pair doing together, you may ask? They’re literally stuck together, joined at the shoulder and torso, forced to spend every moment together!
The concept is rather unique on its own, but the execution in the book is what really makes this book great. The two make for a pair of very relatable siblings, and their differences shine through their dialogue. Vortex, for example, is frequently called a geek for counting the ants he eats and Scoop’s crazy fast running leads Vortex to throw up! They bicker and fight, and eventually Scoop decides they’ll go find some “saw people” (those who are cutting down the trees in the rainforest) and have them cut them apart.
The plot is as silly as the two main characters, but beneath that humor is some depth as well. The referencing of “saw people” eludes to the awful cutting down of the rainforest, and the sibling rivalry and love is a perfect lesson for anyone with siblings. I really loved the story, and it’s a good length for kids who can read for themselves (the book is 50 pages, but the story itself is only about 35). The kindle edition also includes Word Wise, making it easier for kids to read without having to look up definitions or ask their parents what words mean. There are also numerous pieces of art within the pages, typically very colorful and wacky.
Speaking of the art, the entire story was inspired by Alebrijes – “Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures”. They typically have elements from different animals, like bird wings with a skunk body and a peacock’s tail. In this book’s case, of course, it was the combination of an anteater and a lion. The author also includes links for educators regarding Alebrijes and her art lesson plan, making this a great selection for teachers as well.
I really enjoyed my time with the book, but the need for just a little bit of editing is the only thing holding me back from a perfect score. Especially for a children’s’ book, correct spelling and grammar are vital, and while there are only a few errors in the story I felt it was worth mentioning. While I’d give the book 3.5 stars if I could, I’m forced to instead give it 3 out of 4 stars, although I highly recommend it to kids everywhere!
Deep in the dark jungles of the Amazon a most highly unusual birth took place in the animal kingdom of Balta. Two animals were born as one on a tremendously humid day in the middle of August.
The first of these two most unique animals was an anteater named Vortex. His name came from the noise he would make as his two foot tongue would lick up and gather multitudes of ants and stuff them into his long protruding proboscis. With loud, snorking and licking noises he would bring all ants anywhere into his wrinkly, quivering mouth. Animals for miles around could hear the great vacuum of his enormous ingestions as he would begin laboring every morning right on the dot of 6:00 a.m.
“SNORK, SNORK, SNOOOOOOOOOORK, SNORK!”
Vortex vacuumed up all the ants for miles around from the surrounding earthen ground using his tireless 24” tongue. While he did this, he also was very careful to keep very exacting accounts of precisely how many ants he devoured at any given time.
And while you might think his licking and snorking characteristics are what identified Vortex as unusual, these qualities were not, in fact, what put Vortex and his unlikely friend on the map, so to speak.
At the same time that Vortex was born into this beautiful jungle forest, his dear companion and constant comrade, the courageous lion was born. She knew she was a queen from the day she was born and quickly became one of the fastest and fiercest animals in the entire jungle. She was known simply as Scoop.
Why Scoop, you say? Well, it was said by all the animals in her rainforest community, that she was so much faster than her prey, that she would merely spring and scoop, and her prey was already swallowed and digested. Though lions generally populate the continent of Africa, Scoop somehow managed to arrive in the abundant rainforests of Peru in South America, along with her friend and constant companion Vortex.
So why were these two animals so unique? You may ask. Well, here is the story I have been told by those who actually know and lived with Scoop and Vortex all the many years of their lives.
You see, these two animals were born as one. They were attached at the shoulder and torso, so that wherever one went, the other must go accordingly. No one knows why this unusual birth occurred, but animals and people from the region of Balta with firsthand experience declare that in fact, this pair was real and lived for many years in the Amazon jungle sometimes in harmony, sometimes not.
More Ways to Share the Love!! All Fantasy Animal Offsprings!
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Story by Elahe Izadi, September 6, The Washington Post
Anna Dewdney, the best-selling children’s author and illustrator behind the popular “Llama Llama” series, once wrote that “empathy is as important as literacy.”
“When we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language,” Dewdney wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2013.
This is the legacy left by Dewdney, who died Saturday at her Vermont home after a 15-month battle with brain cancer. She was 50.
Dewdney illustrated several successful children’s books in the 1990s. Her 2005 book “Llama Llama Red Pajama,” about the anxiety of bedtime and separation, began a series that frequented the New York Times Best Sellers lists.
Her obituary contains many of the key details of her life, including how she worked as a waitress and rural mail carrier before making it big as a full-time author. But this is how it
concluded: “She requested that in lieu of a funeral service that people read to a child instead.”
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Dewdney wrote more than 10 Baby Llama books, and Netflix is producing a “Llama Llama” series due in 2017, according to her obituary.
“I did my books about llamas because I love the sound to the word ‘llama.’ But they’re just so funny,” she told The Washington Post’s Ron Charles in 2015. “They have such wonderful expressive faces. They’re fuzzy and goofy, and they’re just fun to look at.”
The author and illustrator was also an outspoken advocate for children’s literacy. In the WSJ piece, Dewdney wrote about how reading to children does more than teaching them to love books:
The author had encouraged adults to have fun while reading by using funny voices and also to ask about the plot, talk about how the story makes them feel and ask children whether they can relate to the plot.
“Be human, loving, and strong, and that will allow the children in your care to be human, loving, and strong,” she wrote. “Perhaps, the next time those children feel like hitting or pinching someone, they’ll hold off and ask for a hug from you instead.”
Elahe Izadi is a pop culture writer for The Washington Post.