The Big, Bad Book of Beasts : The World's Most Curious Creatures
by Michael Largo and Jesse Peterson and Christopher David Reyes

Overview -

The world's wildest collection of animal knowledge and lore

Lions, and tigers, and bears . . . and dinosaurs, dragons, and monsters. Oh my

For hundreds of years, the most popular books in the Western world next to the Bible were "bestiaries," fanciful encyclopedias collecting all of human knowledge and mythology about the animal kingdom.  Read more...

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More About The Big, Bad Book of Beasts by Michael Largo; Jesse Peterson; Christopher David Reyes

The world's wildest collection of animal knowledge and lore

Lions, and tigers, and bears . . . and dinosaurs, dragons, and monsters. Oh my

For hundreds of years, the most popular books in the Western world next to the Bible were "bestiaries," fanciful encyclopedias collecting all of human knowledge and mythology about the animal kingdom. In these pages, eagles and elephants lived next to griffins and sea monsters. Now, in The Big, Bad Book of Beasts, award-winning author Michael Largo has updated the medieval bestsellers for the twenty-first century, illuminating little-known facts, astonishing secrets, and bizarre superstitions about the beasts that inhabit our world--and haunt our imaginations. You'll learn about the biggest bug ever, the smallest animal in the world, and the real creatures that inspired the fabled unicorns. You'll discover how birds learned to fly, why cats rub against your legs, and a thousand other facts that will make you look at nature in a wonderfully new way.

Did you know?

The fastest animal in the world is the peregrine falcon, which reaches speeds of over 200 miles per hours.

Circus ringmaster P.T. Barnum fooled many when he displayed a "mermaid" carcass that was later proved to be monkey bones sewed together with the body of a fish.

Discovered in a remote volcanic crater in New Guinea, the Bosavi wolly rat grows to the size of a cat.

President Andrew Jackson bought an African gray parrot to keep his wife company. The bird outlived them both and was removed from Jackson's funeral for cussing in both English and Spanish.

A to Z: From Aardvark to Zooplankton

For all ages

Includes 289 illustrations

  • ISBN-13: 9780062087454
  • ISBN-10: 0062087452
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: April 2013
  • Page Count: 444
  • Dimensions: 8.48 x 7.27 x 1.22 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.19 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Nature > Animals - General
Books > Social Science > Folklore & Mythology
Books > Humor > Topic - Animals

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2013-02-18
  • Reviewer: Staff

Like the medieval bestiaries that Largo (Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die) emulates, this book doesn’t limit itself to familiar or even real animals: nestled between aardvarks and zooplankton, you’ll find long-extinct creatures like the jaekelopterus—an ancestor to the scorpion that grew to be eight feet tall—and completely fictional beasts like the half-dog, half-reptile chupacabra. Averaging between two and three pages each, the entries are written in an informal tone and peppered with illustrations and trivia (hamsters, for instance, were once banned from Vietnam, giving rise to an “underground hamster culture”). Reading the book feels like an evening’s jaunt through a particularly engaging version of Wikipedia. Sometimes, though, Largo is able to capture a more elusive and even more enjoyable sensation: that of being a child on that first trip to the zoo—or natural history museum, or the dinosaur section of the library—who isn’t interested in medieval lessons about “daring and sloth, loyalty and cowardice,” nor contemplations on “what makes us essentially human and at the same time so similar to animals.” No, the much simpler thought process that this book should be proud to elicit is just one joyful word: cool! B&w illus throughout. Agent: Frank Weinmann, the Literary Group International. (Apr.)

BookPage Reviews

Father's Day fun

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff by Scott Bedford is so good it hurts—’cause you know that if your own dad had had this book in his hands, your childhood would have totally rocked. “Chock-full” doesn’t even come close to describing the teeming nature of this tome. The fun photos, cool diagrams, clear instructions and handy cut-out templates run the gamut from wacky home decorations and gadgets (like setting up a Bunk Bed Communicator) to subversively educational science projects (like getting sucked into a Gravity-Defying Black Hole) to zany party ideas (like making Radioactive Sports Drinks). In the end, Made by Dad is about dads (and moms!) and children working on projects together. It’s no accident that the final blueprint in the book is the trump card: instructions for making a card that unfolds over and over, getting longer and longer, until it says, “I Love You This Much.”

The “back to nature” movement of the 1960s has evolved in various ways, but one note of today’s chorus of tree-huggers rings constant: In the 21st century, those who feel dissatisfied with a life cut off from the natural world and choose to do something about it require more ingenuity, more commitment and more willingness to take risks than their hippie forebears did a half-century ago. Fortunately, help is at hand. In The Good Life Lab: Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living, visionary naturalist and conceptual artist Wendy Jehanara Tremayne presents a unique synthesis of memoir, travelogue, guru-level spiritual wisdom and pragmatic instruction on how to get out of the “waste stream” in which urbanites wallow and re-enter the vital stream of the natural world. For Tremayne and her husband, redemption came in quitting their careers and the bustle of NYC life and moving to an abandoned RV park in New Mexico, where they learned to live self-sufficiently. If she can make it there (so she proposes), we—her wildly inspired readers—can make it anywhere. Need food, gas, lodging? DIY! Welcome to the Good Life Lab.

Michael Largo puts the “best” into this “bestiary”—the medieval bookish art of gathering encyclopedic information about unusual animals into a beautifully illustrated volume. The Big, Bad Book of Beasts: The World’s Most Curious Creatures remains faithful to its alliterative title through its fun alphabetical juxtapositions of creatures as diverse in their size and actual existence as the badger, the bagworm and the banshee, or the caladrius, the camel and the capybara. You’ve never heard of a caladrius or a capybara? Well, once you’ve seen the gloriously old-fashioned illustrations of these critters—from sources ranging from ancient Egyptian sculpture to a Victorian science manual—and once you’ve read the delightfully definitive descriptions, you’ll never forget them, nor will it matter to you that the capybara is real (it’s the world’s largest rodent!), while the caladrius is a creature of Roman myth (a bird who could tell you how close to dying a person was by the way it would sit on that person’s deathbed). When a book is this big and this “bad,” it’s beastly good—for all ages.

BAM Customer Reviews