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Damon stood up and offered to take Pythias’s place until he ...
Damon stood up and offered to take Pythias’s place until he returned. The ruler agreed only after stipulating that if Pythias did not come back, Damon would die instead. When the execution day arrived, Pythias had not returned, but Damon still believed that his friend would be there if he could. Just in time, Pythias ran in, offering up his own life for his friend’s.
“Share this offering to launch discussions of friendship, faith, and trust.” —School Library Journal
“Rebellion, loyalty, and friendship fuel the personal drama in this moving picture-book retelling of an ancient Greek legend. . . . Kids will want to talk about the friendship issues and how the tale reaches into their own lives.” —Booklist “Bateman’s retelling of the inspiring tale of two best friends, Damon and Pythias, is a beautiful story not only for young children, but for all ages. The eye-catching, watercolor illustrations have every color of the rainbow to help retell the tale of two men who would give their lives to protect the ones they love. . . . I recommend this book to anyone who wants to be introduced to an inspiring story. I absolutely loved every word and picture of the retelling.”—Kutztown University Review “Bateman breathes new life into this ancient story, and Johnson accents it by stunning paintings. Young readers will be drawn into the Greek legend of the power of friendship, courage and justice. . . . Drama and tension will keep readers turning the pages in this exciting tale of friendship put to the ultimate test. It is a fine introduction to heroes of Greek mythology.”—Children’s Literature “Teachers will find this story useful to incorporate with units of Greek Mythology or Character Building.”—Library Media Connection
Teresa Bateman is the author of many books for children, including Paul Bunyan vs. Hals Halson: The Giant Lumberjack Challenge!, The Bully Blockers Club, and April Foolishness. She is a children’s librarian and lives in Washington State. A native Texan, Layne Johnson has illustrated numerous books for children, including Damon, Pythias, and the Test of Friendship and Christmas for a Kitten. He earned his BFA from the University of Houston and has been a freelance illustrator for more than twenty years.
This classic tale of friendship is set in Sicily in the fourth century B.C.E. Dionysius, a "cruel ruler," surrounds himself with bodyguards, reigns with an iron fist, and sneers at the idea of trusting others. Pythias speaks out publicly against the tyrant and is sentenced to death for treason. The young man's request to journey home to bid his parents farewell is granted only after his good friend Damon steps forward and offers to take Pythias's place in prison, vowing to die in his stead should Pythias not return in a month. The traveler is delayed, and Damon prepares to accept his fate. Pythias arrives just in time, and their heartfelt reunion inspires Dionysius to revoke the sentence and ask the two young men for a "favor": "Might I be the third in your friendship?" Johnson's realistic artwork evokes the setting and time period with rich detail, alternating landscapes and city scenes with close-ups of the characters' faces. The paintings glow with deep apricot and jewel tones, while darker colors underscore powerful emotions. The text reads aloud smoothly with strong dialogue and vivid similes. While Dionysius's instantaneous turnaround from harsh oppressor to humble supplicant might be a bit abrupt and simplistic, it is in the spirit of this ancient fable. Share this offering to launch discussions of friendship, faith, and trust.-Joy Fleishhacker , School Library Journal
Long ago in Sicily, there lived a cruel ruler named Dionysius. He believed in friendship no more than he believed in mermaids or dragons.
"A friend?" Dionysius said. "A friend is only someone who will trick you into trusting him and then betray that trust."
Dionysius lived in a palace outside the city of Syracuse. Five strong gates and a thousand bodyguards protected him. At night he slept behind a locked door in a bed surrounded by a small moat. It could only be crossed by a drawbridge that he alone controlled.
People called him the Tyrant of Syracuse, and he was known to show no mercy to anyone who spoke against him.
Dionysius did not believe in friendship, but in Syracuse there lived two young men who did. Their names were Damonand Pythias. They were best friends and shared nearly everything, including doubts about their ruler.
One day Pythias gave a speech in the marketplace. He spoke against Dionysius, saying he was a bad ruler.
Suddenly thebodyguards of Dionysius appeared. "Run!" people shouted. "Hide!" But it was already too late. The soldiers marched Pythias off to their master to be sentenced for treason.
Damon joined the crowd following the soldiers. He slipped through the five gates to find a place in the courtyard where he could hear his friend's fate.
"Kneel," commanded Dionysius as the youth was brought before him.
Pythias refused. "I bow only to my betters," he said.
Damon watched in horror as Dionysius' face grew red with anger.
"Am I no better than a peasant?" the ruler demanded. "I will show you my power! I find you guilty of treason. You shall be executed in a month." He turned to the guards. "Take him to prison!"
Excerpted from Damon, Pythias, and the Test of Friendship by Teresa Bateman. Copyright © 2009 Teresa Bateman. Excerpted by permission of ALBERT WHITMAN & Company.
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