Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? Physically, this book is beautiful. Heavy glossy pages and illustrations with deep, rich colors make it a pleasure to hold in your hands. The content is rich as well. The stories of Demeter & Persephone, Theseus & the Minotaur, and Orpheus & Eurydice are told in lyrical, descriptive language, with the cast of characters noted at the start of each story and a map of ancient Greece at the end of the book. The stories are divided into short chapters which should hold young readers’ interest, but each delves into additional details which may not be widely known. Each story also has a strong emotional impact as the authors do not gloss over the characters’ sorrow and pain as tragedy unfolds. At the end of each one is a brief, informative “More About the Myth” which provides excellent background information. This is a solid choice for anyone who loves Greek mythology or who wants to learn more about it.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Just a caveat: Sensitive readers should be prepared for more violence and a bit more graphic detail than the typical child’s retelling. For example, when the Minotaur eats his first human there are sounds of “ripping…screaming…tearing…chewing.” It may be best to avoid reading these retellings at bedtime.
To whom would you recommend this book? Read Alikes? Recommend to readers looking for books on Greek mythology, along with the classic D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths by Edgar and Ingri D’Aulaire. For an intriguing present-day novel related to the story of Demeter & Persephone, recommend The Gods in Winter by Patricia Miles.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries and middle schools should consider purchasing this book. The retellings might be a bit too intense for early elementary school.
Where would you shelve it ? With Greek Mythology in 292
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? In the middle of the pile. It’s always a treat to read a beautiful book, and the stories are timeless.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA
Date of review: August 3, 2017