In a world of conflict and division, this is the story of two very unlikely animals who are born literally joined at the hip. Their life journey and close proximity force these two creatures to learn to get along, or they will not survive the Amazon jungles of their village home.
This unlikely pair is born together in the tradition of the Mexican Alebrijes, which are brightly colored Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures originating from the paper mache- and/or-wood carved adaptations which were pioneered by Arrazola, a Mexican craftsman in the 1930's. Miraculously enough, this is the story of an Alebrije that actually comes to life as an African Lion and a South American Anteater. These two animals have no choice but to learn the lessons of cooperation and understanding which results in appreciation and shared love.
Through their newly gained empathy and understanding, they begin to resolve their frustrating differences through a multitude of hilarious adventures. This children's story provides a humorous example of two characters forced to live together as one and how they grow from a place of constant irritation with one another to a new place of understanding and flexibility
A review of the book:(Spelling and grammatical errors have been resolved):
Official Review: Fantasy Animals by Janis Kirstein
#1 by CataclysmicKnight
[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Fantasy Animals" by Janis Kirstein.]
3 out of 4 stars
Review by CataclysmicKnight
Fantasy Animals by Janis Kirstein tells the tale of two very different animals in the Amazon rainforest: Vortex the anteater and Scoop the lion. Vortex is lighthearted, named after the hordes of ants he eats (and even counts!) while Scoop is fearsome and fast, named after how easily she can spring and scoop up her prey. What are such an unlikely pair doing together, you may ask? They're literally stuck together, joined at the shoulder and torso, forced to spend every moment together!
The concept is rather unique on its own, but the execution in the book is what really makes this book great. The two make for a pair of very relatable siblings, and their differences shine through their dialogue. Vortex, for example, is frequently called a geek for counting the ants he eats and Scoop's crazy fast running leads Vortex to throw up! They bicker and fight, and eventually Scoop decides they'll go find some "saw people" (those who are cutting down the trees in the rainforest) and have them cut them apart.
The plot is as silly as the two main characters, but beneath that humor is some depth as well. The referencing of "saw people" eludes to the awful cutting down of the rainforest, and the sibling rivalry and love is a perfect lesson for anyone with siblings. I really loved the story, and it's a good length for kids who can read for themselves (the book is 50 pages, but the story itself is only about 35). The kindle edition also includes Word Wise, making it easier for kids to read without having to look up definitions or ask their parents what words mean. There are also numerous pieces of art within the pages, typically very colorful and wacky.
Speaking of the art, the entire story was inspired by Alebrijes - "Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures". They typically have elements from different animals, like bird wings with a skunk body and a peacock's tail. In this book's case, of course, it was the combination of an anteater and a lion. The author also includes links for educators regarding Alebrijes and her art lesson plan, making this a great selection for teachers as well.
I really enjoyed my time with the book, but the need for just a little bit of editing is the only thing holding me back from a perfect score. Especially for a children's' book, correct spelling and grammar are vital, and while there are only a few errors in the story I felt it was worth mentioning. While I'd give the book 3.5 stars if I could, I'm forced to instead give it 3 out of 4 stars, although I highly recommend it to kids everywhere!
"The artwork (and story behind it) are fantastic in this book, and the plot is both hilarious and deeply thoughtful. I can see it being used in classrooms in so many ways with so many different subjects. The vocabulary is excellent and will have an appeal to several teachers I know, from 1st through 5th grade. In addition, I can see it used in middle and high school art, Spanish, and sociology classes. I am so glad Jan has marked this as "Book One." Can't WAIT for the next one!"
Another Customer Review:
"This absolutely delightful children's book by author and artist Janis Kirstein had me laughing in enjoyment as I read it. I can't wait to read it to my granddaughter, who loves animals. It is a story of two delightful fantasy animals who are joined at the hip and must learn to get along with each other's quirks and craziness, but who realize that they really do love each other. I was charmed by the artwork from this author who is also an award-winning artist. I recommend it highly!"
Janis Kirstein is a Visual Artist as well as a writer born in Louisville, Kentucky. Her visual art includes primarily painting and drawing, as well as some photography, and her writing includes short stories, children's stories with her own illustrations, and poetry.
She was included in the first International Nano Art Exhibit in Finland. This was an exhibit of artists working with electron microscope images as a basis for creative exploration. Her work is now included in the first NASA space capsule of important art, music and writing being sent to the Moon.She has also exhibited her art work in Japan, South Korea, Spain, Peru and Austria, as
well as in many places all over the United States.
She has taught Visual art at universities throughout the country and at two high schools in Kentucky.
“Fantasy Animals” is her first published book.
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