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Children's LiteratureA retelling of stories from the Iliad and the Odyssey, the book begins and ends in Ithaca. Part I recounts how Telemachus, son of Odysseus, at goddess Athene's bidding, leaves home to discover whether his father still lives and then sets out for Ithaca again to avenge the insults of his mother's wooers. In his travels, Telemachus visits Menelaus and Helen in Sparta, where he is entertained not only with tales of his father but also with details of the Trojan War. Menelaus last heard that Odysseus was captive on an island. Meanwhile, in Part II, the messenger Hermes appears to Calypso and tells her to release Odysseus. The home-sick hero sets sail but is shipwrecked on the land of the Phaeacians. There Odysseus, once identified, tells of his ten years' of wandering since the ten-year Trojan War ended. His fate was sealed when he blinded the one-eyed Cyclops, son of Poseidon. But now, Zeus is on his side and Odysseus finally returns home to bring retribution to trespassers and happiness to those who were faithful to him, especially his wife Penelope. A touching scene is when an ancient hound recognizes his master, even in a beggar's disguise, and then dies that very day. The book offers lessons in courtesy applicable to any time period. The framework of two stories meeting up for a suspenseful close are unique to this book. The illustrations are intriguing, though sometimes the icons at the beginnings of the chapters are hard to identify. 2004 (orig. 1918), Aladdin Paperbacks/Simon & Schuster, and Ages 10 up.
—Carol Raker Collins, Ph.D.