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The Bestiary by Nicholas Christopher
In The Bestiary, Xeno Atlas grows up in the Bronx raised by his grandmother. His mother died when he was born and his father is a seaman who is never home, sending just postcards and money from overseas. Xeno's grandmother claimed to be in touch with animal spirits and spun fanciful yarns. When she dies, Xeno is sent away to boarding school in Maine where he first hears of the Caravan Bestiary, an ancient book that details all the animals left off the ark and lost to history, including griffins, hippogriffs, manticores, and basilisks. As an adult, Xeno traipses all over the world in search of the book, which must have been discarded and left behind, much as he was. Nicholas Christopher's novel has received positive reviews with the Washington Post saying, "Christopher captures that adolescent thrill of falling into the mythological world and finding our deepest fears and desires embodied -- alive, frightening and fantastic."