>> Monday, December 3, 2012

If there's one collection of Greek myths I love, it's The McElderly Book of Greek Myths. It has to be one of the only collections I shall ever buy for my children.

The first reason, of course, is the narrative. Instead of treating the people scattered throughout the tales as stiff, black-and-white archetypes, Mr. Kimmel gives them character, explians their weaknesses and describes their strengths. He really makes them human (if human can be used to describe the mythical beings in the stories.)

Take this example from "Pandora's Box":
Epimetheus came home. He found Pandora lying on the floor...Her eyes were red from weeping.
The overturned box lay in the corner. He knew at once what had happened. "I am so sorry," Pandora said. "I broke my promise...I only meant to take a peek. Instead I ruined everything."
"Don't be sorry," said Epimetheus, taking her hand. "You made a mistake. That is all. the fault was mine. I should have explained what was in the box and why it had to remain closed."
It also has the occasional laugh, as shown in "Persephone and Hades":
Persephone let out a shriek. The ruler of the Underworld was frightening enough. Seeing him in
love was absolutely terrifying.
Even Medusa has depth. She is evil, to be sure, but only came down that path after becoming embittered by the curse that took away her beauty. 
And the romances are told in such a  beautiful way--even if most of them are tragic. (As a poster for the opera Orpheus and Eurydice once said: "Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy goes to Hades to get girl back.")

But the main reason I adore this collection are Pep Montserrat's illustrations. They add such passion and drama to the stories! The emotion in the pictures, coupled with Mr. Kimmel's writing really bring it all to life.
Take a look:
"Now is the time. Kill your father!"

I never wondered what Daedalus and Icarus might have felt
when they were imprisoned--until this illustration.


I Am An Otter

You're an otter, mate! Another good friend of Redwall, you are a natural swimmer and a deadly fighter especially with a long bow or javellin. Camp Willow is your home, just as Redwall is your second home. You have a good heart and a strong sense of loyalty. You absolutely love Shrimp and Hotroot soup, living by the motto "Ain't nothing 'otter for an Otter!".

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