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The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals: The Evil Monkey Dialogues
Format: HardcoverChange
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Showing 1-5 of 5 reviews (5 star)show all reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Okay, this slender little book charmed my socks right off! That's a fact. And I write reviews of every book I read. Another fact. But for some reason I'm having a difficult time articulating exactly why I enjoyed this light-hearted gift so much. I think it's actually because there's quite a bit packed into this small package. What I can tell you is this: It brought a smile to my face when I was well and truly blue.

After a couple of very brief prefaces, the bulk of the book is made up of an alphabetical listing of fantastic creatures. There are 34 total, each with a two-page spread. Squeezed neatly into those two pages is a charming black and white illustration of a critter; a colorful description of its history, origin, habitat, etc.; and the "Evil Monkey Dialogues." Despite the bizarre name, this is simply a little light kibbitzing between husband and wife authors Jeff and Ann VanderMeer on the presumed kosherness of said creature. She's a member of the tribe, he's the Evil Monkey.

Of the 34 creatures covered, I was familiar with about a dozen of them. Some were as basic as a Dragon or Mermaid or Sea Monkey, but other creatures were exotic beasts from far away lands and cultures like the Jotai, the Encantado, and the Abumi-Guchi. I'm fairly positive at least one, the Borges, was made up entirely in the authors' imagination. As it happened, that was my favorite listing in the book.

After the creature listings, the final section of the book was discussion with chef/baker Duff Goldman about how one might prepare these creatures, kosher and treyf alike. Now I've never seen his TV show, Ace of Cakes, but he must be an entertaining guy because he's got a delightful sense of humor and a whimsical streak a mile wide. Not only does he discuss the creatures featured previously in the book, but he improvises with other imaginary animals. In fact, he may be a closet sci-fi fan, because he proposes recipes for a Chewbacca and a Tribble, which, let's face it, is pretty much a hairy Rocky Mountain oyster.

My copy of this book had a delightful bonus. Tucked inside were three postcards that the publisher had used for promotional purposes. They were recipe cards for the preparation of Mongolian Death Worm and other culinary delicacies.

I'll tell you what, this little tchotchke is the perfect gift for the person in your life who could use a little more whimsy, a little more magic, and a little more laughter--even if that person is you. I can only hope there's a second volume on the way!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is Very Highly Recommended (!!!), as it is quite simply guaranteed to bring the joy of laughter into your life.

Described as `whimsical', it could also be accurately called `wonderful' or `delightful', even `delicious' (pardon the pun) and despite my goy-dom, I thoroughly enjoyed getting in touch with my Inner Jew for the duration this book. All 34 Imaginary Animals contained in this bite-sized book (Darn! There I go again!), are wonderfully illustrated and each and every entry features an extremely funny short dialogue between Ann and Jeff's devilishly twisted alter ego, Evil Monkey. When I wasn't chuckling outright, I was smiling all the way through, and even, most unusually for me, the book provoked five or six out-loud belly laughs. Make sure you don't miss out on the hilarious exchange between Ann and Celebrity Chef Duff Goldman at the end on the proper way to cook imaginary animals - you'll never think of Cherubs, Cthulhu or Tribbles in exactly the same way again!

In addition to the content, when you consider the production values (this book is a properly bound (stitched), dust-jacketed hardcover that will last for years through many readings), the value-to-money-spent-ratio becomes even higher.

A great gift idea and an ideal way to while away a couple of idle hours.

Sequel! Sequel!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Jeff VanderMeer and his wife Ann have come up with a winner this time. Let's take some imaginary animals, and try to decide whether they would be kosher or not. Add to each animals descriptions a conversation between Evil Monkey (Jeff) and Ann in an IM format and you've got the table set for a belly full of laughs.

Imagine such creatures as Abumi-Guchi, Akaname, Jaud, or Shedim; bring in the legend and a tale of them, and follow up with a hysterical commentary and you'll have this adorable book. Reminiscent of VanderMeer's `The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide To Imaginary Diseases', this thin volume of imaginary animals is bound to entertain you. Perfect to keep in the purse for those waits at the doctor or DMV, you shouldn't allow yourelf to miss out on this extraordinary treat of literature. Enjoy!
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on November 7, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I used this for an art lesson on hybrid, imaginary animals. It gave some oomph to my lesson and also was a treat for the kiddos. It was a great teaching tool.
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on September 14, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
give it often as gift
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