The Iliad and The Odyssey are retold in this fast-paced, easy-to-read text that contains plenty of action. The stories highlight the gods pettiness and frivolity and Zeus could use more of a spine and be more decisive. While the authors purport to be using "lively, modern language" according to the jacket, I personally prefer gods and goddesses to be articulate and not sounding like the kids in a middle school cafeteria at lunchtime. However, this may be a reason why those students will actually pick up this book and read it. The illustrations, both full-page color and smaller black and white sketches, coalesce with the text. A map of Ancient Greece and a Who's Who, which contains a glossary of gods and goddesses with phonetic pronunciation, complete the text.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-10Beginning with background that sets the stage for the Trojan War, rushing headlong into battle, and rounding out with Odysseuss journeys, this book covers much ground. The original story is replayed fairly accurately, following the events of the ancient texts. Confusingly, Greek forms of names are used, except for the Roman Ulysses used for Odysseus. Attempts to use Homeric devices are occasionally seen, but for the most part, the writing is chatty. The women are silly; the goddesses are portrayed as foolish girls playing games with humans, and the powerful Zeus is too easily swayed by them. The dialogue sounds like a theater production performed at Sweet Valley High, as Aphrodite purrs and Achilles announces that hes going to Go for it! Some episodes in the tale are downplayed, as when Iphigenia is turned into a deer rather than sacrificed, but others, such as the Cyclops incident, are properly gruesome. The watercolor illustrations match the casual tone of the writing, with full-page color and black-and-white ink-wash drawings generously interspersed. This looks vaguely like comic-book art, with muscular males and well-developed females, but the details are accurate and the characters are diverse in cultural representation. For a concise, well-written retelling of these stories, see Ian Strachans The Iliad (Kingfisher, 1997) and Neil Philips The Adventures of Odysseus (Orchard, 1997). Purchase this newer title only if there is high demand for these ancient tales, as it could be useful if Greek myths are a regular segment of the curriculum.Angela J. Reynolds, West Slope Community Library, Portland, OR Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.