Ep. 22. Fantastic beasts and where to find them: Magical sidekicks in books
It is often the case that heroes in fantasy stories are in the company of a friend who helps them in their preternatural quest. It is also the case that many times these friends have one, or many, magical traits: talking animals, or chimeric beings come to mind. Regardless of these beings having fur, scales, wing, or all of those, these are the sidekicks our heroes can always count on. The brave, wise, and loyal companions for which no CGI can rival our readers' imagination when it comes to visualizing them. We readers have been meeting these magical sidekicks for a long time, and this episode is dedicated to them and the books that have, magically, brought them to us.
Photo by Ave Calvar Martinez
📗 Mythology by Edith Hamilton
Pegasus is the winged horse of Greek mythology, born out of Medusa's blood after Perseus beheaded her. He was coveted by Bellerophon, who was able to tame Pegasus with the aid of a gift from Athena, a golden bridle. It is on top of Pegasus that Bellerophon achieved many of his heroic deeds, one of them being the defeat of the mythical monster Chimaera. The story of Bellerophon and Pegasus is one the many legends covered in Mythology by Edith Hamilton. The book is a reference for Greek and Norse mythology and the stories which have influenced Western civilization.
The cover of the 1998 paperback edition of Mythology, published by Little brown and Co. features Pegasus. Out of the hundreds of gods, titans, heroes, and mythological creatures of the Greek pantheon, Pegasus was chosen in this edition to be prominently displayed in the cover. This gives us the perfect excuse to select it for our Cover Gallery this week.
1998 Paperback edition by Little Brown and Co.
📗 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowlings
Right at the beginning of the Harry Potter series we meet the white owl that would accompany the young magician to Hogwarts, delivering Harry's mail, helping him adjust to his new life, and offering him comfort and protection.
Having a snowy owl sidekick, specially one as special as Hedwig, might not be a possibility for us muggles. But there are some items inspired by Hedwig you can have. If you like to knit, you can get the knitting pattern for a Hedwig made out of yarn from Dot Pebbles Knit, or the pattern from Tiny Owl Knits Patterns for a wonderful shawl, which looks like Hedwig in full flight when your arms are wide open.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which introduces Hedwig and the whole Harry Potter series, has been recommended in the book The Story Cure as bibliotherapy for older kids who need to wear glasses. The famous young magician who has a snowy owl as a sidekick definitely made glasses look cool.
📗 The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials #1) by Philip Pullman
In the Golden Compass we meet Pantailamon as soon as we meet Lyra, a girl trying to find her friend Roger in the North ruled by witches and armored bears. Pantailamon is more than a sidekick, he is the physical manifestation of Lyra's soul. Pantailamon can shiftshape, or at least he can do it until Lyra grows up and then a shape is settled. Since there is still some time until then, Pantailamon shift into any shape that benefits Lyra at the moment. Pretty convenient, right?
Lyra grows up at Jordan College in a fictional Oxford, and fans can partake of the Philip Pullman's Oxford Official Tour. The tour lasts 2 hours, it has been endorsed by the author, and it includes visit to Exeter College, Bodley's Library and other locations that have inspired Pullman's books.
In the book Roger has been lured with chocolatl by Mrs. Coulter, and the recipe has been recreated by Livestrong.com.
📗 Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
This is a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses with elements of many other fairy tales woven in as well. I mean, it is even set in Transylvania, around the Piscul Draculi castle. The castle has a secret portal to the Other Realm where five princesses go every full moon to dance among magical creatures. One of these princesses is Jena, who goes everywhere accompanied by Gogu, a talking frog. Gogu is faithful and comforting, and there is something else very special about him that we are not going to spoil.
If like Jena, you would like to take a frog friend everywhere, Traceless offers you the opportunity to do so by wearing a non-piercing ear cuff in the shape of a frog, just like Gogu.
Frog ear cuff by Traceless
📗 The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende
Falcor is truly a fantastical being; he is a luck dragon, best described as a cross between a white dragon and a flying dog or camel-like creature. Falcor is Atreyu's dignified and optimistic sidekick, and together they save Fantastica from the Nothings. Flacor also helped Bastian return to the human world with a very special cure after Bastian has been literally sucked into The Never Ending Story book. Falcor can fly, but his most relevant talent is that he brings incredible good luck.
If you can use some good luck and believe Falcor might help, Jools, a store specialized in handmade jewelry inspired by stories, sells a Falcor necklace that might be what you need.
Falcor necklace by Jools
📗 The Watchers and The Gifted Ones (Panther Tales #1) by Daniella Rushton
This is the first book in a series for young readers that will delight those who love the fantasies we have mentioned so far. The protagonist of the story is Hannah, and her sidekick is a winged panther named Parky who was inspired by a life size copper sculpture displayed in the author's home. The book also has a very unique feature: it includes a list, curated by the author, of inspirational listenings to accompany some chapters.
We had the chance to read this book recently and want to recommend it to you by featuring in our Six-Word Review section: A girl's ultimate fight for imagination
📗 Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Zelie Adebola, the young protagonist of this fantasy YA novel, has a lionaire sidekick called Nailah who Zelie has raised since Nailah was a cub. As you can imagine the lionaire, best described as a horned lioness, is extremely protective of Zelie and a great companion as Zelie travels to restore magic to the kingdom of Orisha. The novel is deeply rooted in West African mythology, and many Yoruba words, deities, and cultural elements were used for the world-building in this debut novel.
One of these elements is jollof rice, a staple of West African cuisine. After reading Children of Blood and Bone, Christina from Receipe & A Read, share the recipe for the jollof rice she made inspired by the book.
The relationship between Zelie and her sidekick lionaire Nailah have been celebrated in a book sleeve created by Enchanted Extras by Bri. The book sleeve can go perfect with a bookmark inspired by Zelie's headdress in the book and made by Soul Amour Studios.
This week for Book vs. Book we decided to stay in Narnia, where, let's be honest, magical beasts and fantastic sidekicks abound.
📗 The Voyage of the Dawn Trader (The Chronicles of Narnia #3) by C.S. Lewis
One of the most likable magical creatures in Narnia is Reepicheep the Mouse. He is not any mouse, he is a the chivalrous leader of The Talking Mice of Narnia. Reepicheep might be small, but he has the heart, courage, and honor of a giant. In The Voyage of the Dawn Trader, he sails alongside Lucy, Edmund, and their cousin Eustace to the end of the world in search for the seven lost lords of Narnia. From the beginning of the book, Eustace is not a likable character, and Reepicheep makes it clear he shares that opinion. But when Eustace becomes a dragon in the aptly named Dragon Island, it is Reepicheep who keeps him company during his lonely nights.
All magical and non magical beings sailing aboard the Dawn Trader would have enjoyed the Dawn Trader soup we found at Recipe How. The soup could have been a favorite of Eustace and Reepicheep, and if you prepare this meal, you can enjoy it with your own sidekick.
📗 The Horse and His Boy (The Chronicles of Narnia #5) by C.S. Lewis
In The Horse and His Boy we get to meet Bree, short for Breehy-hinny-brinny-hoohy-hah, a talking horse. Bree and a boy named Shasta are heading into Narnia with a very important message regarding the safety of the magical world. At the beginning of their journey, Bree is reveled as arrogant; but his adventures with Shasta erode this arrogance to show us a loyal and humbled friend by the time Shasta and Bree reach Narnia.
In his letters and essays, C. S. Lewis mentioned several times that his idea of Narnia was inspired by Northern Ireland, especially the area around Rostrevor overlooking Carlingford Lough. It is in this location that The Narnia Trail in Kilbroney Park can be found. On the trail, visitors step through a wardrobe into an interpretation of the magical world, which becomes more magical each year in November during the Narnia Festival.
There is a book featuring a dragon sidekick named Saphira. The author wrote this book when he was still a teenager, and inspired by his own color-blindness, he gave Saphira blue-tinted vision. Could you guess the title of this book by its first line by visiting our GuessWork page?
To buy books covered in this episode, visit our TBR Bundles.