By Marc Emmelmann

Melanie Dellas'Melanie Dellas’ new book, Fantastic Fabulous Creatures and Beasts (Volume 1), is perfect for children or anyone with a whimsical spirit. 22 beasts & creatures are introduced in this 45 page, creamy blend of fantastic and fabulous!  Written poetically with dynamic and fun illustrations, mythological folklore is celebrated in a modern way.  In this first volume, you’ll meet the Bogies, the Kappa, the Sirens, and the Harpies, as well as Puck, Pan, the Woodland Leshy, Water Folk, and the Rusalki!

Each creature has their own dedicated page with artwork and their poem. The imagery is similar to “Where the Wild Things Are”, but is also reminiscent of a Tim Burton-esque style.  Don’t be surprised to find your eyes fixed on Christopher Bennett’s eerily brilliant illustrations.  Christopher was the perfect collaborator for FFCB because he is a San Diego illustrator, musician and pantomime artist who is also a proud member of the singing robot troupe called Steam Powered Giraffe. Admittedly, it was an exciting project for Bennett, who has always had a fascination for monster mythology.

This is definitely a book that can be read over and over again. You can read one poem a night or all at once, or it can be your coffee table conversation piece just as well! Melanie shares, “Through this book, it is my hope that children will come to respect and appreciate the multicultural world they live in and, of course, remember that our world is still mystical and magical – as long as our stories remain alive!”

Melanie Dellas is known for more than just authoring. With all her irons in the fire, she might come across as scattered. She edits for local poets, so you might think she would be the quiet, reserved type. She belly dances with an urban tribal twist, so she may come across as dark and mysterious. She is also a grant writer for the local classical music company Mainly Mozart and produces Fusion Nights, a late night performing arts event at the Portugalia in Ocean Beach on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Sounds busy, huh?  Well, throw in being a mother of two and there you have it – busy, busy, busy, which is just how she likes it. Unlike some people who have their finger unproductively in too many pies, Melanie Dellas balances her life with tremendous grace, calmness and potency. She is far from scattered, and is actually quite calculated and precise, as well as most fantastic and fabulous too!  I’m still trying to figure out how she gets it all done.

What is your secret to balancing life?
Really good time management. I’m at a point in my life where I want to do so many things, but have to be a mom first and foremost. So, my No. 1 priority is being a mom and doing all the school activities with my boys. After that, I have to really schedule my days well, so I can do everything I want: my job, dancing, writing my 2nd book, and preparing to go to graduate school.

What do your kids think of the new book?
They love it. They helped me every step of the way as far as telling me if the pictures were too scary or by reading the stories. If my oldest couldn’t read the words, then I knew I had to edit. They also love that their names are on the dedication page – they think they’re famous!

What creatures do you and your boys like most?
My 7-year-old son John loves the Woodland Leshy because to confuse the Leshy, you have to put your clothes on backwards and your shoes on the wrong feet! My 4-year-old son Nick loves all the scary pictures, like Medusa.  And I have 2 favorites: Pegasus because I love the way the poem turned out; and the Phoenix because of the connection it has with its mother.

Do your mythology mash-ups stay true to the original stories?
Absolutely, I researched all of the stories from the originals to the exaggerated ones and made sure to follow the originals as best I could. The point of it is to teach kids the true mythologies, not what you’d see in the movies.

What are your plans for volume 2?
I’m working on it now. So far, I have 5 creatures done! I will be putting creatures in from Israel, China, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Africa and many other countries! It’s going to be fantastic!

Where can we get a copy of FFCB?
Barnes & Noble and Amazon!

Here is an excerpt from one of the myths I find especially fun. It’s about the Bogies!

“Deep Inside your cupboards
your cluttered storage places
Bogies love to make their homes
And fill the smallest spaces.

Their wispy forms are often mistaken
for a puff of dust
So if you see a Bogie,
paying attention is a must.”

Melanie will be doing a free Saturday storytime at the Mission Valley Barnes & Noble on March 19th at 1pm, so be sure to mark your calendars and meet all 22 creatures with Melanie Dellas herself!  NUG Mag readers are highly encouraged to attend!  Last but not least, you may want to visit www.MelanieDellas.com to find the special  “Meet the Creatures” section, locate Melanie’s latest blog about the Texas Chupacabra, and to sign up to receive info on events, books and news!

bringing you that fire!

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