Pandora, a curious, modern-day tyke, is forbidden by her mother to open a certain box in this tale loosely based on the Greek myth.
She touches, leans, stands and bounces on the box, which, in kid logic, is not actually opening it. After one bounce too many, the box opens, and cupcakes explode all over the floor (luckily not plagues and other evils, but smashed cupcakes are equally upsetting). Pandora and her mother find one intact cupcake left in the box as the girl asks, “Do you still love me? I hope so.” Her mother answers in the affirmative, and they hug. While light on mythology, Pandora’s encounter with the box is remarkably entertaining, and youngsters will relate to the glee she takes in bending the rules. Patricelli captures Pandora’s chutzpah in delightful painted cartoons in rich colors, while Holub contributes only one or two lines of text per page. The companion title, Play, Nice Hercules, is an even looser interpretation of the 12 labors of Hercules, but little ones will identify with his impossible task of playing nice with his sister. A paragraph-long note appears on the back page of both titles relating the Pandora and Hercules myths in simple language, but this will likely go over the heads of most toddlers.
Parents expecting to introduce tots to classic myths will be disappointed, but the life lessons the source material inspires are spot-on. (Board book. 2-4)