Book Review: If I Had a Gryphon

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If I Had a Gryphon, the gorgeous (Canadian!!!) book written by Vikki VanSickle and illustrated by Cale Atkinson is downright awesome.

The pictures are masterfully created with a touch of sweet innocence, allowing them to keep you moving from page to page, but always wanting to go back for another round.

I was drawn to the book, at first, because of the illustration on the cover. I also was drawn to the little bit of special that was added to the title text. I’m always partial to a book that is created as a whole package, rather than having the text just placed in as an after thought (okay, that’s not really fair – but there is something delicious about an artfully created title font that is more than what I could create by clicking “add text” in Photoshop).

Vikki Vansickle’s first picture book is stunning (she also write novels). I know I keep using these fancy, and probably overused adjectives, but I can’t stop. It seriously is so great. I’m in love with this book. Through flowing rhyme that keeps the pages turning, the main character seeks out a better pet than her hamster – and each page or two contains a possibility, from Gryphon to Hippogriff to Kelpies and Mermaids. There are some creatures in here that I’ve never even heard of (like Kelpies, and also … what is a Kirin?!). This has sent me on mad Googling journeys: we’re always learning – and you have to give respect to a book that makes you want to both keep reading in rhyme and also find out more about something in the text.

Cale Atkinson’s work is rich, layered and boasts a gentle yet energetic vibe that is very easy to look at for repeated readings. If you have a little kid who will over love a book, then this is the book you need. His art, including and beyond this book, is just drool-worthy. You can find him here – he has more books coming out!

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Kingsley loves this book. He regularly pulls it off the shelf and kisses the hamster. He also enjoys anticipating the ball in one of the illustrations (ball is one of his favourite words).

I would highly recommend that you pick up this book today. It’s loaded with art that is down to earth, and somehow polished in a rough and textured way. The words will flow off your tongue, and it may just be the perfect introduction to mythological creatures for the very young reader. Boys and girls alike will love this story.

You can see a preview here: If I Had a Gryphon!

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