KENNY & THE BEAST OF BOOKS
The Tales of Kenny Rabbit, Bk. 2
Written and Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
Simon & Schuster BYR—Sept. 2020
216 Pages Age 7+
Genre: Chapter Book, Fantasy
Themes: Mythical Creatures, Acceptance & Inclusion, Family
What can come between TWO BEST FRIENDS?
Since we last visited the once-sleepy village of Roundbrook a lot has changed for Kenny Rabbit. For starters he’s got a dozen new sisters! His friends are at different schools and Sir George is off adventuring. It seems the only thing Kenny can truly count on is his dragon buddy, Grahame. No matter how busy, crowded, or noisy life gets, it’s nice to know Kenny will always have his best friend by his side.
That’s before Dante arrives. Dante is a legendary manticore and an old friend of Grahame’s. Old friends spend a lot of time catching up. And that catching up does not involve Kenny.
But there’s a Witch to defeat, a pal to rescue, and a mysterious book to unlock. And those are quests fit for best friends, not old friends.
(from back cover)
“(I know, I know . . . It has been some time since I, Flit Shrewsbury—royal historian for the king—have shared a story of young Kenny Rabbit. Although I’ve gathered all the details for this adventure, I am more a participant than a narrator. So, without further ado, my trusted apprentice shall describe the events as they happened.)”
Why I like Kenny & the Book of Beasts
Kenny & the Book of Beasts is the sequel to 2012’s award-winning and well-received Kenny & the Dragon.
Sir George returns from his adventure looking for mythical creatures. He is trying to correct and update The King’s Royal Bestiary book. He’d like to find a copy of The Book of Beasts, written a long 300 years ago by Eldritch Nesbit. Sir George has also been appointed as the King’s royal advisor and will move to the castle. A heart-broken Kenny and Grahame escort George to the castle. While waiting for a special dinner to begin, a possum riding a flying book enters the room claiming to be Eldritch Nesbit, author of The Book of Beasts.
Chaos and mayhem ensue after Flit is trapped in The Book of Beasts and Dante, a manticore is released. Kenny sees “Grahame” written in the book next to blank space. Nesbit grabs the book and takes off. Sir George and the king’s army go hunting for her, but being a 300-year-old possum, the old witch could have more supernatural powers then expected.
Back home, Kenny is unhappy. He feels like he is losing everyone in his life. His girlfriend and friends all switched schools and when he is with Charlotte, all she talks about is that wonderful new school (nonstop). And, of course, George left for the castle. Dante returned with Kenny and Grahame. The old friends are catching up at the exclusion of Kenny. Kenny’s becoming sullen. He wants Dante to leave Roundbrook—and Grahame—but he cannot, else Nesbit will find him—and then Grahame, “whooshing” them into her book. An opportunity arises for Kenny; a chance to be rid of Dante. Will Kenny take it, and if he does what will it cause?
I didn’t have the chance to read Kenny & the Dragon, but now I wish I had. Kenny & the Book of Beasts is magical, and I am not speaking of Nesbit’s supernatural powers, though those are superb and alarming. I’m talking about the writing that never disappoints; the characters that stick with me as if real; and a world I’d love to visit. Roundbrook, Rabbit Farm, and the Kingdom seem much older than the year we live in, yet there are a few items that seem out of place, like Kenny’s “horseless carriage,” which looks like a small Model-T.
There is much humor in Kenny’s second story (I imagine there was much in the first as well). Mom had kits (babies), and like we expect from a rabbit, there are twelve kits—all girls. Being older, Kenny must watch his sisters and his reactions are often just like a human boy would have if compelled to watch his younger sister. Grahame takes the role of benevolent uncle and the girls love him. Despite having his own home, Grahame spends most of his time at Kenny’s family farm, so he can’t help but notice the time Dante and Grahame spend together, usually reminiscing. Kenny is jealous and upset. We see how such feelings can cause great mayhem, if not resolved.
Kids will love this sequel to Kenny & the Dragon, even if they did not read book one. This sequel easily stands on its own. Even so, how can kids not love Kenny & the Book of Beasts when there is a dragon, a manticore, a crazy witch, a hero badger, the King’s army, and a supportive family? The story will hook kids on page two, with its illustration of Kenny carrying two sisters with another riding on his shoulders. Oh, I almost forgot; and one wrapped around his ankle, all getting a lift to their wagon.
Super talented Tony DiTerlizzi also drew the illustrations. The art is wonderful. If you’re having trouble imagining the setting, look at one of DiTerlizzi’s pencil drawings. He’ll put you in the middle of an exciting scene and kick start your imagination faster than Kenny can crank-start his horseless carriage. This fun story will have readers under covers at night with the story and a flashlight (because putting a story down, when you’re hooked, is harder than gathering Kenny’s twelve sisters). If you like a modern-medieval setting, unusual mythical creatures, and an enlightened citizenry, where all are welcome and included, then Kenny & the Dragon and Kenny & the Book of Beasts should reside on the best area of your bookshelf.
Favorite Sentence & Interesting Scene
Tony DiTerlizzi writes dialogue that can span generations. One of my favorites was written for the villain, the wicked three-hundred-year-old witch Nesbit. Her take on society fits our modern-day society as if she were here and a part of it.
“Facts to you are fiction to others. We see only what we want to see.” (Apt for today; particularly in politics.)
There is one scene that should be mentioned, given that most of you love books. At the kingdom library, Stonehorn Library, Kenny is impressed with the large number of books (more than 40,000), and the ornate library. Flit calls the library “the royal treasury.” Books and knowledge, not money, are most important. How refreshing! (Thankfully DiTerlizzi drew the interior of Stonehorn Library and it is stunning).
Illustrations Rendered in Ticonderoga pencil on bond paper.
To Learn More About Tony DiTerlizzi: Website
Available at Amazon: Kenny & the Book of Beasts
Reading Group Guide
Kenny & the Dragon Discussion Guide Book
Live from the Author’s Studio
Conversation Between Tony DiTerlizzi and Jeff Kinney
Desktop Wallpaper & Behind the Scenes
KENNY & THE BEAST OF BOOKS. Copyright © 2020 by Tony DiTerlizzi. Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, NY.
Copyright © 2020 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
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