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Victorian scientist R. W. Greasebeam presents a series of letters--by a ninth-century Viking, thirteenth-century Chinese girl, and a Prussian cartographer, among others--and colorful artwork recording the discovery of the world's most fearsome dragons. 60,000 first printing. $60,000 ad/promo.
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Grade 4 Up-Adopting the persona of Rowland W. Greasebeam, B.Sc. (Serpentology) F.R.Aud., Base explores one of the animal kingdom's most exotic niches, presenting the stained, tattered letters of three (fictional) early dragon hunters, along with brief footnotes and a series of oversized, spectacularly detailed illustrations. All three individuals made their discoveries inadvertently: young Soong Mei Ying on a business trip to 13th-century Kathmanadu; 9th-century Viking Bjorn of Bromme on another sort of business trip to ancient Britain; and Dr. E. F. Liebermann, a contemporary of Darwin, on an ill-fated quest to prove that Africa, Tasmania, and Madagascar were once connected. All three find several dragon species, from the cat-sized Japanese Butterfly Lizard to Madagascar's gigantic and remarkably unsavory Common Green Draak. Though descriptions of each creature's appearance and habits tend to be general and understandably hasty first impressions, young readers will pick up all sorts of little-known facts: that few dragons breathe fire, for instance, and that many are vegetarians, including the infamous St. George Dragon, which "...can most commonly be seen in the remoter parts of Andalucia, lying in wait for passing grocery trucks." The letters are, fortunately, all written in English, and present no legibility problems; readers who skip them in favor of poring over the paintings, which appeared previously on a calendar, or the running frieze at the bottom, in which each correspondent's career is reprised, will find the art as tongue-in-cheek as the text, replete with toothy, scaled, but nonetheless seldom scary monsters. A browser's delight.
John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Embellishing colorplates that appeared in a 1990 calendar, and with his tongue resolutely in cheek, Base (The Sign of the Seahorse, 1992, etc.) narrates a mock-scientific treatise on serpentology in the voice of Victorian scientist Rowland W. Greasebeam, B.Sc., F.R.Aud., who claims to have located original letters (``from a variety of sources that propriety demands must remain confidential'') proving the discovery of dragons by a ninth- century Viking, a thirteenth-century Chinese maiden, and a fellow Victorian naturalist. In an oversize format, the letters appear as facsimiles, accompanied by spectacular full-color paintings of the dragons, with editorial notes, plate captions, maps, and scale drawings that compare the dragon in question to a horse, a mouse, an elephant, or--in one case--a human beating a quick retreat. Greasebeam's stuffy self-importance provides much of the fun; especially hilarious are references to his rival, Professor Marty Fibblewitz, that demonstrate in only slightly exaggerated form the legendary infighting among academics. The letters are full of silly details, such as this line in Viking Bjorn's letterhead: ``General Looting and Pillaging, Gratuitous Violence a Specialty.'' A cartoon sequence at the bottom of the spreads illustrates the ``plot'' of each letter and offers children a chance to read between the lines for funny subplots. Throughout, Base speaks for the scientists, author, editors, and the publisher, with wit that is accessible to children and that cannot be ignored by adults. A humorous, self-referential tour de force with resplendent illustrations. (Author tour) (Picture book. 10+) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Harry N. Abrams. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0810932377 Ships promptly from Texas. Seller Inventory # Z0810932377ZN
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