One Beastly Beast: Two Aliens, Three Inventors, Four Fantastic Tales
Eos, 2007 (2007)
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
arth Nix admits that he was a boy who loved stories of all kinds, and as luck would have it, he had parents who loved stories too, in a house filled to the rafters with books of all shapes and sizes. Nix also admits that he liked stories of fantastic creatures and fabulous places the best, and when he grew up, he wanted to write those kinds of stories. Now Nix, author of
The Abhorsen Trilogy
, is committed to '
a life of adventure through reading
', and writing. He brings us
Four Fantastic Tales
One Beastly Beast
Blackbeard the Pirate
, a fifth grader named Peter unexpectedly joins a different kind of navy. Mom asks Peter to return DVDs to the store. Marching along, Peter hears a voice coming through a steel grate in the ground, leading to adventures with rats so tall that they come up to Peter's knees, standing on their hind legs. Garbed in old-fashioned clothes and big wide floppy hats, they carry cutlass and pistols. These DVD pirates sail their ship,
The Nasty Cupboard
, down the sewer drains. Captain Erasmus Rattus of His Majesty's Royal Rat Ship, the
, engages Peter to assist in capturing the video pirates. Ship's Doctor Abnedgo Norvegicus performs
over Peter to shrink him down to fit through the sewer grates. A delightful rat romp follows under the city streets.
The Princess and the Beastly Beast
, a neglected young royal (Princess Chlorinda, Rinda for short) seeks adventure. Her mother, Queen Alba, was once a full-time warrior, and now composes music. Her father, King Victor, is also a wizard by trade. To strike up some excitement, Rinda reports a '
bloody beastly beast on the battlements
'. (It is none other than Horace the royal pig covered with strawberry jam.) A bored Rinda decides to makes good her threat to run away. As darkness falls, still no adventure! Suddenly an object in the pathway catches her attention, and Rinda hits it with her stick, '
Whack! Whack! Whack!
' Rinda soon crosses paths with a witch troll, a little old lady, and a clockwork monster.
Bill the Inventor
. He was an abandoned baby, found wrapped in a really big banana skin and brought to the '
Mrs. O'Squealin Home for Lost Children
'. Bill hoped to be adopted. While he waited, he experimented on inventions. When Captain and Mrs. Blood arrived to adopt a child and picked Bill, he was reluctant to leave with them as he was an inventor not a pirate. Next came a wizard and a witch, followed by aliens with tentacles and thirty-three eyes each, from the planet
. Of course, Bill outsmarts the wannabe adopters, and remains at the orphanage as an inventor, awaiting the perfect parents.
he fourth and last tale,
Serena and the Sea Serpent
, is my favorite. A girl genius - youngest of Sam and Susan Smith's seventeen daughters - courageously offers to face a sea serpent, which has been creating havoc with ships. They live in Blabber Point, Australia, where her father invented the
computer. One day while Serena was in the same room, the computer was struck by lightning, and its '
powerful capacious memory
' was transferred to Serena's brain, hence her genius. The vegetarian serpent is '
as long as ten busses, and its mouth the size of a garbage truck cruncher
'. And this particular sea serpent has the power to turn girls into
njoy four capricious tall tales to keep you all a grinnin' in
One Beastly Beast
, where Garth Nix combines impeccable imagination with characters who have real character.
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