K-Gr 5-Readers are in for a wild and imaginative treat complete with alarmingly believable hybrid creatures. DuQuette begins by introducing several wondrous beasts from mythology: the griffin (lion and eagle), the kappa (monkey and tortoise), the hippocampus (horse and dolphin), and the cockatrice (rooster and serpent). A spread at the end provides more information about these examples and introduces a few more. The bulk of the book features the author's own creations. The "Mosquiphant," for example, has a "stinging trunk [that] will leave a lump/that's bigger than your head"; the "Mouscodile" skips the cheese and eats the cat; and the "Snorse," a horse/snail combination, "takes three days to round the track." The creatures are described in short, funny verses and brilliantly illustrated in watercolor-and-gouache paintings that are sure to elicit gasps and giggles. The collection ends with an invitation: "Of all the animals we could combine, /what kind of creatures would you design? /Let your imagination run free. /Create your own menagerie." Most children will find such a challenge hard to resist, and teachers will find many creative ways to share the book with students.
Between portraits of a griffin, cockatrice, and other portmanteau creatures from world folklore, DuQuette sandwiches a dozen big, precisely detailed, fanciful hybrids of his own, from a furred-and-feathered "Cooster" (cow rooster) perched on a-fortunately sturdy-fence rail, to a coterie of fluffy pink "Squoodles" (squid poodle) drifting elegantly through turquoise waters. Each creation comes with pocket-sized portraits of its antecedents, plus a rib-tickling rhymed caption: combine a parrot with a gorilla, and, " 'Parilla wants a banana.' / 'Parilla wants a bunch.' / And then he wants your breakfast, / and then he wants your lunch!" Taking Ellen Stern's pedestrian I Saw a Bullfrog (2003) to the next level, each visual element here blends smoothly, ingeniously, into the next. Not only does this make an inviting lead-in to Peter SisŐs similar flights of fancy in Jack Prelutsky's Scranimals (2002), but may well induce young viewers to take up DuQuette's invitation, and craft a few "mythical" animals of their own. (Picture book. 7-11)