The Unicorn’s Tale: A (Rapid Fire {Nathaniel Fludd}) Review

The Unicorn’s Tale by R. L. LaFevers, illustrated by Kelly Murphy (2011)

The Unicorn's Tale by R. L. LaFevers, illusrated by Kelly MurphyBook 4 in the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series

Since I have already reviewed book 1, book 2 and book 3 of the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series I decided that for book 4 I didn’t need to go in depth with background information. SPOILER: I loved all of the books. Much as it pains me to say this, we’re really at the point in the series where you have to read the previous books to keep up.

In addition to featuring one of my favorite mythical creatures (I’m on Team Unicorn) this book gets back to basics established in book one. Nathaniel and Aunt Phil stay together for the entire story, Cornelius the Dodo is back. And we learn more about Nate’s parents.

The mythological beast story was charming and worked well with the more ongoing story of Nathaniel’s missing parents. We are also treated to an excerpt from the Book of Beasts (instead of a glossary) filled with information on the various kinds of unicorns. As usual Murphy’s illustrations are gorgeous and add a fun dimension to the story.

I love this series and am kind of obsessed with it. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an old fashioned adventure-fantasy for the younger set.

The Wyvern’s Treasure: A Review

The Wyvern's Treasure by R. L. LaFevers, illusrated by Kelly MurphyNathaniel Fludd has protected a phoenix and contained a basilisk as well as adopting a gremlin as his unlikely (and possibly unsuitable) companion. Nate is ten yeas old and he is a Beastologist-in-training; one of the last of the Fludd family line, charged with the responsibility of caring for and protecting some of the world’s more unusual beasts.

While Nate has grown to care deeply about Aunt Phil on their whirlwind travels across Africa, he misses his parents who were declared lost at sea. He hopes that news of a mysterious intruder tracking the beasts for ill purposes will lead to clues about their mysterious disappearance and possibly even reveal that they are alive after all.

But before Nate and Aunt Phil can make sense of his parents’ disappearance or the intruder, they will have to travel to Wales to appease an angry lair of Wyverns. An intruder (perhaps the intruder) is wandering their caves breaking an ancient Covenant that, once broken, will lead to Wyverns wreaking havoc across the Welsh countryside. There is less than a day left to restore the Covenant and stop the intruder, but by the end it all comes down to one question: Will Nathaniel Fludd be able to outsmart a Wyvern in The Wyvern’s Treasure (2010) by R. L. LaFevers with illustrations by Kelly Murphy?

The Wyvern’s Treasure is the third installment in the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. It is also probably my favorite of the three because I have a special fondness for Wyverns in all of their huge, dragon-y glory.

This was a fun installment in an already enjoyable series. Readers get to see a bit more of Cornelius the Dodo and learn more about the mystery surrounding Nate’s parents (though not much more). This volume also brings a new landscape and more background about the Fludd family. The only flaw, really, is that it was so short that there wasn’t much room for more information about the backstory of Nate’s parents where readers get more questions than answers. (Questions that will hopefully be resolved later in the series.)

The main story, of negotiating with the Wyvern’s and stopping the intruder is excellent; filled with action, humor and a fair bit of charm. Over the course of the series, Nathaniel is really coming into his own as a beastologist at the same time that his pet, Greasle the Gremlin, is learning more about how to deal with things in the human world.

Murphy’s illustrations are, as ever, wonderful additions to the story with representations of the beasts, the characters and the landscape as well as some of Nate’s own drawings for good measure.

All in all, a delightful read.

Exclusive Bonus Content: This might also be my favorite cover of the series so far.

Nathaniel Fludd Beastologist: The Basilisk’s Lair

The Basilisk's Lair by R. L. LaFevers, illustrated by Kelly MurphyNate Fludd, Beastologist in training, has just barely recovered from his adventure protecting the Phoenix egg and rescuing Aunt Phil from the Bedouin when adventure once again comes knocking while Nate is struggling with his (lacking) navigation skills. A basilisk, the King of the Serpents, is loose and must be contained before he destroys a Dhughani village and poisons the entire region’s water supply.

Nate would much rather return to London with his new pet/friend Greasle the Gremlin than trek through Africa with Aunt Phil and her secret weapon to face one of the most fearsome creatures documented in the Fludd’s Book of Beasts. But where trouble goes, beastologists tend to follow. As he grapples with his own fears and the usual problems that come with dealing with beasts of a mythical nature, Nate might just find he’s braver (and more of a beastologist) than he thought in The Basilisk’s Lair (2010) by R. L. LaFevers with illustrations by Kelly Murphy.

Find it on Bookshop.

There are not enough words to say how much I love this series. Nathaniel Fludd is everything readers will want to see in a young hero. Murphy’s illustrations perfectly capture the essence of the characters and the atmosphere of the story while LaFevers’ writing creates a funny, exciting story that will appeal to readers of any age.

The book comes equipped with a handy glossary of real (and imagined) terms to help readers better make sense of the slightly Steampunk world of Beastologists and the era of 1928.

The series started with a powerhouse debut in Flight of the Phoenix and if this book is any indication, the series will only get better with each new installment.

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix (a review)

Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers, illustrated by Kelly MurphyOn September 5, 1928 ten-year-old Nathaniel Fludd’s parents are declared lost at sea. Alone in the world with no other close relatives and a governess eager to abscond with her Tidy Sum from the Fludd estate, Nathaniel is sent to live with Phil A. Fludd–a mysterious cousin Nate has never met, let alone heard of in Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers with illustrations by Kelly Murphy.

Find it on Bookshop.

It turns out an eccentric cousin is the first of many things his parents never told him about. The Fludds come from a long line of Beastologists: explorers who travel the world documenting and protecting rare beasts the world has long forgotten, including one rather unique bird that resides with Nate’s eccentric cousin.

When Nate is whisked off with his Beastologist kin, he finds himself in a world of adventure traveling to Arabia to ensure the safe hatching of the world’s only Phoenix.

But no one said being a Beastologist was easy. When trouble strikes Nate is once again all alone faced with the daunting tasks of protecting the Phoenix egg (and his secret pet Gremlin) while hatching a clever plot to rescue his guardian from the Bedouin.

The book comes equipped with a glossary of real (and imagined) terms to help readers better make sense of the Steampunk world of Beastologists and the era of 1928 which create a unique

Flight of the Phoenix is a brilliant story. LaFevers’ writing is charming. She evokes Nathaniel’s world with wit and humor that is complemented well by Murphy’s endearing illustrations. Together the two provide a strong opening to what I hope will be a long series of books.

Hush, Little Dragon: A Picture Book Review

Hush, Little Dragon by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Kelly MurphyMy first thought upon seeing Hush, Little Dragon (2008) by Boni Ashburn, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, my first thought was, “Those are some cute dragons on that cover. I must read this book.” The book is illustrated by Kelly Murphy and written by one Boni Ashburn. I will be the first to admit the immaturity of my observation, but my initial reading of her name was “Boney Ash Burn” and I actually thought she might be using a pen name (I don’t think that is the case anymore).

Anyway, Hush, Little Dragon is based on an English lullaby called “Hush, Little Baby” which some readers might know. It begins with the the lyrics

“Hush, little baby, don’t say a word, Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird don’t sing, Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.”

though I have heard it sung more often with references to Mama. (Wikipedia has an entry for the song including full lyrics.)

As far as lullabies go, “Hush, Little Baby” is pretty tame (what with the lack of babies in tree tops or what not). It’s also one of my favorites. That is, perhaps, why I was ill prepared to fully enjoy this parody of that song.

The book starts:

“Hush, little dragon, don’t make a sound. Mama’s gonna bring you a princess she found. If that princess runs from you, Mama’s gonna bring you a knight or two.”

The story goes on in that vein, with the mother bring her baby dragon various townspeople to eat, until the big finish when she decides they might have overstayed their welcome.

I love the illustrations, and I loved the idea. But I couldn’t quite love Hush, Little Dragon as a whole, perhaps because there was something so incongruous about reading a book about eating people (albeit by dragons, which is what they naturally do) to the tune of a lullaby. I suspect that children who like dragons will not have my problem and will flat out adore this book much in the same way I was able to adore The Nightmare Before Christmas in my youth only to find it unbelievably creepy (though still sort of neat) at the age of twenty-three.