GREEK GODS AND HEROES

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

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

THE ILIAD

“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. 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Striking illustrations and a compelling narrative bring an important Indian tale of good and evil to young readers.

RAMAYANA

AN ILLUSTRATED RETELLING

A classical Indian literature scholar offers a brief and engaging version of the ancient and beloved epic Hindu poem Ramayana.

Based on oral tradition, the book narrates with poetic language the journey of the divine Rama as he rescues his beloved wife, Sita, after she was abducted by the evil, 10-headed demon king Ravana. In this retelling, the spotlight is fixed firmly on Rama; his loyal brother Lakshmana and courageous disciple Hanuman come a distant second. However, the author does an impressive job of portraying Lord Rama, a revered Hindu god, as a well-rounded figure with all the doubts, faults, and fallibility of a mortal, as when he tests Sita’s loyalty and chastity on three different occasions. Golden-skinned Sita is mentioned the least of the protagonists, and we get to know very little of her thoughts and feelings, depriving the reader of an important perspective. Vibrant, detailed, and mystical illustrations showing ferocious rakshasas (demons) and graceful heroes enhance the text. Pen-and-ink spot art serves to mark scene changes. The fluid and evocative prose and nonstop action are sure to draw in those who already know and love this classic as well as providing an accessible introduction to readers unfamiliar with the story.

Striking illustrations and a compelling narrative bring an important Indian tale of good and evil to young readers. (author’s note) (Classic. 10-15)

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63206-177-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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