Julius Zebra: Grapple with the Greeks! by Gary Northfield

Julius Zebra: Grapple with the Greeks! by Gary Northfield. Candlewick, 2021. 9781536215144

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre:  Fantasy/historical

What did you like about the book? Book “IV” in the series about a band of friends on adventures in ancient worlds. Julius is the “striped horse” of the title, and he is accompanied on his quest by Lucia, a crocodile, Rufus, a giraffe, and an antelope, a warthog, a lion and Julius’s brother. A short graphic introduction provides the reader with the background and character summary. In this book, the demigod Heracles challenges Julius and his friends to become champions of Rome, entitling them to aid him in the completion of his twelve labors. The friends go to Crete, where they outwit the Minotaur in his labyrinth; they battle the dragon who guards the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides; and they even visit Hades in the Underworld.

The adventure is a lighthearted and humorous romp through Greek mythology, with plenty of jokes and silly misunderstandings. Black and white line drawings on every page complement the text and provide an entertaining take on the serious subject of battling mythological monsters through the eyes of the misfit animal travelers. At the end, there are short sections on Roman numerals, planet naming, as well as instructions for making a Greek Hoplite puppet and painting an urn in the style of the ancient Greeks. A glossary fleshes out the characters from mythology.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?   For ages 7-10, who want a little more meat to their historical fiction after the Magic Tree House series, and for fans of ancient Greece.

Who should buy this book? Elementary school and public libraries

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: August 4, 2021

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