From Publishers Weekly
If merit were judged by sheer size, this massive illustrated book would win a heavyweight championship. But this ambitious fantasy-a Pagemaster-esque tale of a 19th-century professor and his family's magical journey into the world of legend-seems unduly slick. The pedestrian prose by St. James (A Journey of the Imagination) and Foster (who has written novelizations of Star Trek and Aliens) is frequently breathless with its own wisdom: "Legends offer mystery and romance and beauty and adventure to anyone who cares to find about them. To lose the old stories... I cannot bear to think of a world without them." While Christensen's abundant illustrations are often richly detailed and atmospheric, many of them are simply overwrought. And, in the mythical world of manticores, gryphons, harpies and trolls, the faeries, mermaids, dryads and their ilk all look suspiciously like Daryl Hannah. Line art, too, punctuates these pages, with semi-pretentious profiles of the fantastic creatures met on the voyage. Credendo vides, or "Believing is seeing," is the motto of the good ship Basset, and it serves readers as well. Those who believe children deserve books with more heart will pass this entry by. Ages 8-up. BOMC selection.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA. In 1850, Professor Algernon Aisling learns that the university plans to eliminate his Department of Myths and Legends. Because he fervently believes in the power of ancient stories and legends to help us understand ourselves and our place in the modern world, he absentmindedly wishes that a magical ship would transport him to the ancient lands of myth. PRESTO! Captain Malachi of the HMS Basset appears, and invites the professor and his daughters to sail from London to the lands of imagination. Aisling and 10-year-old Cassandra board eagerly, but 16-year-old Miranda is serious, practical, and reluctant to make the journey. The Aislings and the crew, made up of dwarves and gremlins, sail forth and encounter characters in (mostly Greek) myths: a manticore, Oberon and Titania, harpies, a sphinx, Minotaur, mermaids, sea serpent, trolls, gryphon, dryad, Medusa, unicorn, and a dragon. All goes along merrily until Aisling steals a dragon's skull belonging to the trolls. This action sets in motion a series of misadventures that endanger everyone aboard. Here, too, is a voyage of self-discovery. The professor realizes the consequences of his greed and desire for fame; Miranda begins to overcome her grief over her mother's recent death. Pen-and-ink drawings from the professor's journal and from Cassandra's notes are a delightful accompaniment to the lush paintings that illustrate this charming and whimsical fantasy. Christensen's magical journey proves that "one's imagination is where science starts," and will appeal to receptive dreamers from age 10 to 110.?Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.