THE BROKEN TUSK

STORIES OF THE HINDU GOD GANESHA

Krishnaswami's retellings of Hindu myths from India about the elephant-headed god, Ganesha, which include variants of tales heard in childhood or found in later research, make an elegant and eminently readable volume that's a vital addition to any multicultural shelf. Useful prefatory sections on the whole of Hindu mythology point out that the stories continue to be living cultural and spiritual entities in a way that tales from Greek or Norse mythologies are not, aiming to inculcate a way of life that includes ideas from the Hindu faith. The focus on Ganesha happily clarifies the swirling complexity of Hindu tradition while also enabling readers to empathize with this most likable and humorous god. The question that springs immediately to many readers' minds- -why an elephant's head?—is entertainingly addressed in the first tale, along with the notions of reincarnation and filial responsibility. The latter notion expands in the next story, a clever narrative dealing with the relationship of child to parent. The book also includes one tale, ``The Birth of Phagpa,'' from the Buddhist tradition of Mongolia. Throughout, black-and-white illustrations depict Ganesha's childlike charm, even when he's under duress or stress, or in the throes of heartbreak. This book opens perceptual doors to a great and still vital Eastern tradition—a gift indeed. (pronunciation guide, lists of characters and Ganesha's names, glossary, sources) (Fiction/folklore. 10+)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-208-02442-5

Page Count: 98

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1996

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An enviable hero and appealing wish fulfillment that’s spiced with teen-friendship drama.

THE ZEE FILES

When her family moves to London, an American teen adjusts to a new school in this middle-grade novel.

Previously, 12-year-old Mackenzie Blue Carmichael, called Zee, detailed her seventh grade escapades in the five-volume Mackenzie Blue series. Now a year older and in the eighth grade, the red-haired, blue-eyed, olive-skinned Zee faces a major life change because her father’s job is taking the family to London from Los Angeles. Besides leaving behind sunny skies for London fog, Zee must say goodbye to Chloe Lawrence-Johnson, her best friend from Brookdale Academy. Another big change is that Zee will be attending a boarding school, The Hollows Creative Arts Academy, in the Cotswolds. That’s a bit intimidating, but the school has some huge advantages, especially its focus on the arts. She can concentrate on her singing and songwriting while studying academic subjects. Plus, her Brookdale friend Ally Stern now lives in Paris, just two hours away. Despite her anxieties, Zee makes several friends quickly. Unexpectedly, she is taken into the charmed circle of Izzy Matthews, a popular YouTuber, and hits it off with the school’s hottest ninth grade boy, the posh Archibald “Archie” Saint John the Fourth, a fellow songwriter. But hurdles remain, such as staying in touch with Chloe across time zones. Ally, too, has been mysteriously distant, canceling a planned Paris rendezvous for unclear reasons. Wells (now writing with Smith) continues the Mackenzie Blue series under a new umbrella title. Transplanting Zee to England allows for a fresh array of challenges and adventures, and American readers will likely enjoy learning about cultural differences with Britain. (Some references are off target; for example, the name St. John isn’t spelled “Saint John.”) Zee has a lively voice that makes her sound like a friend any teen would like to have, although few readers will be able to relate to the characters’ wealthy lives. Teens own expensive, high-status items like Alexander McQueen sneakers, and their school is so far out of reach for most that it might as well be Hogwarts. These elements are certainly entertaining as an aspirational fantasy, though Zee’s troubles seem lightweight indeed among so much privilege. The fast-paced plot ends rather abruptly just as it feels as if Zee’s story is really getting started; the tale continues in Book 2. Jamison supplies monochrome illustrations that deftly convey the teens’ expressive emotions.

An enviable hero and appealing wish fulfillment that’s spiced with teen-friendship drama.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 167

Publisher: West Margin Press

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK HEROES

In a similarly hefty companion to Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods (2014), the most voluble of Poseidon’s many sons dishes on a dozen more ancient relatives and fellow demigods.

Riordan averts his young yarn spinner’s eyes from the sex but not the stupidity, violence, malice, or bad choices that drive so many of the old tales. He leavens full, refreshingly tart accounts of the ups and downs of such higher-profile heroes as Theseus, Orpheus, Hercules, and Jason with the lesser-known but often equally awesome exploits of such butt-kicking ladies as Atalanta, Otrera (the first Amazon), and lion-wrestling Cyrene. In thought-provoking contrast, Psyche comes off as no less heroic, even though her story is less about general slaughter than the tough “Iron Housewives quests” Aphrodite forces her to undertake to rescue her beloved Eros. Furthermore, along with snarky chapter heads (“Phaethon Fails Driver’s Ed”), the contemporary labor includes references to Jay-Z, Apple Maps, god-to-god texting, and the like—not to mention the way the narrator makes fun of hard-to-pronounce names and points up such character flaws as ADHD (Theseus) and anger management issues (Hercules). The breezy treatment effectively blows off at least some of the dust obscuring the timeless themes in each hero’s career. In Rocco’s melodramatically murky illustrations, men and women alike display rippling thews and plenty of skin as they battle ravening monsters.

Tales that “lay out your options for painful and interesting ways to die.” And to live. (maps, index) (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8365-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

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