Atalanta's Race: A Greek Myth

Overview

In ancient Greece, the gods control every life, from peasant to King. When newborn Princess Atalanta is left to die on a mountainside because her father wanted a son, the gods send a bear to care for her. Adopted by a woodsman, she grows into a great hunter and athlete, and is eventually reunited with her father, the King. But as she gets older, Atalanta has no use for the gods and gives them no credit. When she must run the most important race of her life, on which her future happiness rides, the gods intercede ...

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Overview

In ancient Greece, the gods control every life, from peasant to King. When newborn Princess Atalanta is left to die on a mountainside because her father wanted a son, the gods send a bear to care for her. Adopted by a woodsman, she grows into a great hunter and athlete, and is eventually reunited with her father, the King. But as she gets older, Atalanta has no use for the gods and gives them no credit. When she must run the most important race of her life, on which her future happiness rides, the gods intercede once more—and Atalanta learns they will not be ignored forever.

Retells the myth of the Greek princess, rejected by her father, raised by bears, won in marriage in a race by Melanion, and then changed into a lioness by an angry Aphrodite.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Climo and Koshkin, previously paired for Stolen Thunder: A Norse Myth, reconfirm their compatibility with this stately picture book. Delving beyond the surface of the Greek myth of the fleet-footed princess, Climo’s well-told tale raises issues of female worth and inclusion in male-dominated activities. . . . Koshkin’s striking, deep-toned, classically inspired paintings amplify the drama: framing each painting with architectural motifs, he matches Climo in her sensitivity to detail and ambience."

Publishers Weekly

"By starting Atalanta’s story with her rejection by her father, and carrying it past her race and marriage to her transformation into a lioness, Climo hints at the rich psychological interest in her tale. . . . Koshkin’s delicate but vibrant paintings, done in a style evoking the antique, set the raven-haired heroine and blond hero into an archaic Greek world of dress and décor. A slender architrave, pediment, and columns frame each picture. . . . There are many retellings of Atalanta’s story, but none surpasses this one."

School Library Journal, Starred

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Climo and Koshkin, previously paired for Stolen Thunder: A Norse Myth reconfirm their compatibility with this stately picture book. Delving beyond the surface of the Greek myth of the fleet-footed princess, Climo's well-told tale raises issues of female worth and inclusion in male-dominated activities. She tempers the harshness of the ending (in which Atalanta and her true love are punished for failing to acknowledge divine help) in a thoughtful author's note that links the heroine to the modern Olympics, open to women athletes since 1900. Koshkin's striking, deep-toned, classically inspired paintings amplify the drama; framing each painting with architectural motifs, he matches Climo in her sensitivity to detail and ambience. Ages 6-10. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"A stately picture book, well told with classically inspired paintings that amplify the drama and match the author's sensitivity to detail and ambiance," wrote PW. Ages 6-10. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
An ancient Greek myth that tells of a young woman abandoned by her royal father, rescued by a bear, and raised by a woodsman. She became a hunter and runner, who won every race she participated in, until the goddess of love, Aphrodite, gave a young man three golden apples. Atalanta could not resist the apples, and the young man Melanion won the race and her hand. But although Atalanta and Melanion began to live happily ever after, neither one of them remembered to thank the gods. That one error cost them their lives as humans-they were turned into a lion and lioness, running freely through the woods forever. "For that was the will of the gods." An explanation of the myths surrounding the Olympics and a little of the history gives a satisfying conclusion to the story.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Richly enhanced by classic Greek lines and bold streaks of color, this remarkable tale provides a fine model for strong, courageous and athletic women today. Swift Alalanta is a dazzling heroine who outwits and outruns all the men in her life. When the gods intervene, she is forced to confront her own pride before she finds true happiness.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
The Greek myth of Atalanta defeating all her suitors in footraces is well known. But what happens before and after the race is not. Now we have a most satisfying version by Shirley Climo. Rejected by King Iasus, her father, at birth because of her sex, Atalanta is left on the top of Mt. Cyllene to die. She is nurtured by a she-bear and later raised by Ciron, a hunter. A child of the forest, she runs with the deer but soon wants more. King Iasus hears of her prowess and invites her to Court but when he realizes who she is, he begs her forgiveness. Now the familiar version begins. Climo retells this story with elegance and concludes with the ending that explains that the gods must be paid for their help. The paintings are as graceful as the prose and recreates ancient Greece with style.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-7-By starting Atalanta's story with her rejection by her father (who wanted a boy), and carrying it past her race and marriage to her transformation into a lioness (because she failed to honor the gods), Climo hints at the rich psychological interest in her tale. A she-bear suckles Atalanta; a hunter raises her as a boy. Her athletic prowess first wins her notice, then acceptance, from her father; but what he really wants from her is a grandson. Melanion (Hippomenes in other versions) seems, at least, to love her for her own strong self. Atalanta, too, admires Melanion, and perhaps wishes him victory; although, as a true competitor, she tries her best to win. The apparent triumph of love is called into question by Aphrodite's revenge on the couple, both of whom are ungrateful to her for her gift. Koshkin's delicate but vibrant paintings, done in a style evoking the antique, set the raven-haired heroine and blond hero into an archaic Greek world of dress and decor. A slender architrave, pediment, and columns frame each picture. Aphrodite appears with her trademark swan and dolphins, while gorgeous double-spread endpapers depict the whole world of an ancient city-state. There are many retellings of Atalanta's story, but none surpasses this one.-Patricia (Dooley) Lothrop Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618051540
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/28/2000
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 520L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.81 (w) x 10.50 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Alexander Koshkin has illustrated several books for Clarion. He lives in Moscow, Russia.

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