9781499804263. ea vol: illus. by Victor Rivas. 128p. (Behind the Legend). bibliog. further reading. websites. little bee. May 2017. Tr $17.99. pap. $9.99. POP
Gr 3–6—This first pairing in Peabody and Rivas's new series about legendary creatures is an engaging and irreverent adventure in middle grade nonfiction. Peabody takes cryptid hunters on a lighthearted tour of the major sightings, hoaxes, mythical antecedents, and scientific probabilities surrounding Nessie and Sasquatch, ably abetted by Rivas's goofy black-and-white illustrations. Peabody puts a fairly heavy emphasis on the scientific method and careful evaluation of sources, cautioning readers to use common sense and not to trust so-called experts without proof of credentials. As a starting point for budding scientists and explorers of unusual phenomena, the series provides a simple overview of the field along with thoughtful asides and further reading suggestions for those left wanting a little more. The breezy narration will appeal to middle graders, although there are a few places where Peabody fails to define her terms and perhaps one too many crude jokes (can there be too many in a book about monsters?). Further, there are a few holes in the background information (a historical look at giants that doesn't discuss Norse mythology), but the titles are open, thoughtful, and respectful (an acknowledgement that "it's also disrespectful and foolish to assume that we know the meaning behind another culture's stories or legends" is well placed).
VERDICT A fun overview for readers interested in the science, history, and storytelling behind popular legends.

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