This second book in the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series continues the story of 10-year old Nathaniel, as he attempts to master the family profession of beastologist. In the first book Nathaniel has received word that his parents are missing and presumed lost at sea. Swept up by his somewhat enigmatic Aunt, Phil A. Fludd, he has learned that he is the last in a long family line of "beastologists", whose role it is to study animals thought to be mythological or extinct. Having successfully presided over the birth of a phoenix and formed an unlikely friendship with a Gremlin named Greasle in the first book, Nathaniel and his aunt have now received word that the Basilisk has escaped from care in Africa. They immediately set off on a mission to recapture the monster and return it to its confinement before it can lay waste to most of the continent. Even though Nate often doubts his abilities and is troubled by his fears he finds himself flying over West Africa and traveling by canoe down the Niger River to both recapture and save the monster. When Aunt Phil is injured in the attempt, it is Nathaniel’s quick wits and resourcefulness that save the day.
Children who love fantasy and exotic settings mixed with a bit of mythology will enjoy reading about Nate as he discovers his inner hero. Tantalizing clues regarding missing letters, a mysterious thief, and the actual fate of Nate’s parents leave mysteries enough for sequels, and should keep readers coming back for more. The straightforward text, short chapters, and plentiful pen and ink sketches make this an accessible and enjoyable series for middle readers. 150 pages Ages 8-10
Recommended by Linda Lucke, Librarian