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GREEK MYTHS by Geraldine McCaughrean


adapted by Geraldine McCaughrean & illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

Age Range: 8 & up

Pub Date: April 30th, 1993
ISBN: 0-689-50583-3
Publisher: McElderry

 The much-honored McCaughrean (A Pack of Lies, 1989, Carnegie Medal) slyly telegraphs the philosophy behind these grand renditions in describing how Athene turns Arachne into a spider to punish the matchless weaver for her arrogance--yet Arachne's gloriously beautiful fabric depicts the gods doing ``silly things...squabbling, lazing about, and bragging. In fact she made them look just as foolish as ordinary folk.'' McCaughrean is as irreverent, and as delightfully artful, in these 17 stories and epics retold in a contemporary style enlivened with snappy dialogue, whimsical descriptions, dramatic vignettes, and ingenious embroideries and explanations (Heracles gets Atlas to take the sky back because ``These stars do prickle''; Polyphemus gobbled two of Odysseus's men, then ``spat out their belts and sandals''). Beginning with Prometheus's creation of man and concluding with his release, McCaughrean provides enough links to give a sense of complicated community. Important particulars are intact and given in some detail (King Midas's problem with donkey's ears as well as his tactile troubles), though without the more horrendous aftermaths (Jason and Medea simply ``lived together as man and wife''). A deliciously witty reminder that, as McCaughrean says, these myths ``are just too good to forget.'' Clark's lovely, lighthearted watercolors, depicting most of the characters as foolish but appealing innocents, are generously supplied on every page. A splendid offering. (Mythology. 8+)