The Greek story of the goddess Demeter, her daughter Persephone and how the seasons came to be is told in song and story in this lively adaptation.
The text is mostly prose that’s interspersed with rhymed couplets. This reads somewhat clunkily, but when one realizes it is actually an operetta, it is rather more effective. The included CD contains the spoken narrative, the solo sung bits and a host of children’s choruses that add sweet texture to the whole. Béha’s illustrations show the influence of the Chagall/Cubist school, making splendid use of mottled and translucent color. Collaged-in printed music appears in the images as leaves, eyebrows or clothing, reinforcing the book’s musical underpinnings. The tale has a spirited Persephone; she fights back against her imprisonment while Hades tries to win her over. He succeeds, too, as she chooses to eat a few pomegranate seeds so that she might return to him and then convinces her mother that this will work. There is some humor, and the music has elements of jazz and pop as well as opera.
The book does not work so well as a printed story as it does when accompanied by the music, but with or without the CD, it is a creative foray into sharing myth with young people. (cast, production notes) (Mythology. 6-11)