An acknowledged and popular interpreter of the classic days of ancient Greece, Robert Graves has here retold for children 27 of the Greek myths. He places his legends in the period of the ancient and savage rule of the Olympians; he relates to the major gods and goddesses the minor gods, the Titans, the Giants — and the heroes of Greek mythology. The Underworld too is presented —and the overall aura of jealousy, spite and rebellion. The familiar stories include the myths of Persephone, of Midas, of Daedalus, of Bellerophon and Pegasus, of Theseus, of Perseus, of Heracles and his labors, of Jason and the Argonauts, and so on. Directly told, with no attempt to oversimplify them, a good deal of the symbolism and the association with the pattern of ancient Greece survives.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 1960

ISBN: 0440932211

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1960


An expertly crafted rendition and a welcome invitation to younger readers to immerse themselves in the ancient past.

“Sing to me, O Muse, of the rage of Achilles”: a rousing graphic rendition of Homer’s great epic.

It’s a blood-soaked poem of primeval war, one ostensibly fought over a certain daughter of Zeus who turned the wrong head—“Or possibly an apple, or a lot of gold, or control of trade routes”—that brought vast armies to the plains of Troy. In a fight personified by two heroes, Trojan Hector and Greek Achilles, there’s more than a little graphic violence here—but nothing other than what Homer himself described, as when Achilles’ spear finds Hector’s neck, followed by Achilles’ intemperate curse: “Your corpse goes to the dogs.” That’s not very sporting, and of course Achilles gets his comeuppance. Hinds allows that his version is not complete, but all the best bits are there, and he provides some helpful interpretive hints—identifying the principal helmeted Greek and Trojan warriors with subtle alphabetical designs on their breastplates, for instance. The best graphic panels are the ones that show the war’s vastness, with a two-page spread of those famed thousand ships crossing the Hellespont, another panel showing the Greek army spilling out onto the plain, “like the great flock of migrating birds that take wing in the meadows by the stream of Caÿster—as numerous as the leaves of a forest.” An author’s note and page-by-page notes provide further context.

An expertly crafted rendition and a welcome invitation to younger readers to immerse themselves in the ancient past. (map, bibliography) (Graphic adaptation. 10-adult)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8113-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019


Will catch some eyes, but this feels like edginess for edginess’s sake, no deeper.

Short, brisk vignettes flip traditional fairy tales onto their backs.

Twenty-three rewritings disclose dark secrets. Although each ostensibly has its own narrator, a lascivious narrative tone runs throughout. Dezsö matches that tone with black cut-out silhouettes of death and dismemberment, breasts unobscured. Incest recurs, as does kinky sexuality. Red Riding Hood, one example of the latter, reveals, “I was totally looking / forward to that part. With the wolf and all. I’m into danger, / okay?” Kink is rarely acknowledged in teen literature; it’s unfortunate that these tales are too abrupt to address the topic meaningfully. The line-breaks of Koertge’s free verse seem gratuitous. Sexual imagery includes both children (Hansel and Gretel “eat and eat, filling up the moist recesses / of their little bodies”) and projected rape-fantasy (the Beast claims that Beauty “almost wanted / me to break her neck and open her / up like a purse”). Descriptions are incomprehensibly flip (“Oh, her skin is white as Wonder bread, / her little breasts like cupcakes!”) or harsh (“a beautiful girl…not the usual chicken head ho”). The voice dances from incongruous humor (“it’s weird inside a wolf, / all hot and moist but no worse than flying coach to Newark”) to modernity forced into fairy-tale diction (“She’d slept over at their hovels”).

Will catch some eyes, but this feels like edginess for edginess’s sake, no deeper. (Fractured fairy tales. 14 & up)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4406-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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