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TREASURY OF GREEK MYTHOLOGY by Donna Jo Napoli Kirkus Star


Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters

by Donna Jo Napoli & illustrated by Christina Balit

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0844-4
Publisher: National Geographic

Oft-told tales retold with uncommon verve and outfitted with resplendent Art Deco–style portraits.

Napoli opens with the rise of the “mother force” Gaia to bring order to the whirling elements of Chaos and closes with the devastation of the Trojan War (“the doing of gods with too much time on their hands”). In between, she introduces over two dozen immortals and heroes—including Hestia, Helios and Selene among the better-known Olympians and their mortal offspring. While somehow managing to keep all the sex inexplicit (Aphrodite is born, for instance, from the “foam” produced by an unspecified body part ripped from her father Uranus), she lays out clear family lines. She pays close attention to her narrative’s tone and sound, capturing the nature of each god or mortal with vivid turns of phrase: Peaceable Hestia considers Zeus a “frightful maniac,” Orion grows up to become “an insufferably pompous nitwit” and Selene is left to pine, “silver sweet, and soft, and sad,” for her eternally sleeping lover, Endymion. Applying rippling strokes of intense color, Balit opens with a shimmering family tree of Olympians, heads each chapter with a stylized full-body image of a mythological figure with associated emblems and symbols and also contributes interior illustrations and thumbnail portraits for the closing summary cast list.

Superb versions for reading alone or for sharing with audiences large or small.

(Mythology. 10-14)