Ideal Age Range: Kindergarten, Primary.
Genre: Board Book, Picture Book, Humour
Synopsis: Dissatisfied with her timid and lazy hamster, the bespectacled protagonist of If I Had a Gryphon imagines more exciting alternatives. Despite the gryphon of the title, a unicorn is her first choice.
Thoughts: Okay, a board book seems out of place considering some of the other posts on this blog, but I like tongue-and-cheek humour when it’s well done.
The unicorn is silky, silvery, tinkly, prancing, essentially, the incarnation of the present glittery unicorn phenomenon. Endearingly, the narrator informs us that despite the unicorn’s flashiness, she is “very shy” and suspicious of grade-school unicorn fanatics. (There are also subtle hints of other possibilities, like nerdy professorial unicorns.) With each following creature (hippogriff, Sasquatch, Chupacabra…) the narrator reduces mythological powers to the domestic hazards of house pets. Ultimately, the hamster seems safest, though (surprise!) even it has a secret.
The book is notable for reaching beyond Western mythological beings, and distinguishes between the unicorn and the kirin, a sometimes-similar mythological creature known to Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures. (Unlike the shy unicorn, the Kirin is a proud creature who asserts its demands for ample fodder.)
A playful consideration of pet ownership, mythological or otherwise, If I Had a Gryphon is a treat for readers young and young-at-heart.
Buy If I Had a Gryphon here.