Book Review: Lionel and the Book of Beasts

Rating: ★★★★★

The Book of Beasts is one of Edith Nesbit’s most exciting dragon stories, and Michael Hague has beautifully adapted it for a picture-book audience.  In the story, a newly-inaugurated child-king named Lionel discovers a magical book in his library that, when opened, releases mythical beasts, including a dragon which causes his kingdom no end of trouble.  Through cleverness and courage, and the help of a hippogriff, he must find a way to defeat the dragon and rescue his kingdom.  The story manages to combine excitement, drama, and danger with an innocent childishness, striking a fine balance between adventure and security.  Although it has a tongue-in-cheek quality, it is notable for placing a young child in a place of great responsibility, allowing him to exceed adult expectations by fulfilling the role of heroic monarch despite his age.

In Hague’s simplified  version, some of Nesbit’s dry humor still comes through, and although the literary brilliance of her original writing is lessened, the storytelling quality remains quite good.  For purists who wish to use the original text, a  recording is available for free at, and in text form at

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Publication Information: Hague, Michael. Lionel and the Book of Beasts. Nesbit, Edith (Original Author). HarperCollins. 2006. ISBN: 0688140068.
Categories: 5 Stars, Age 04-08
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Posted on January 31, 2011

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