I Am Arachne: Fifteen Greek and Roman Myths

Overview

Spinning, I can’t stop spinning, so stay a minute, and I, Arachne, will spin a story for you . . .

In this singular collection, the heroes and heroines of fifteen Greek and Roman tales give their own dramatic accounts of events. From the magnificent spinner Arachne, who learns that a mortal should never challenge a god, to the god Pan, who prefers Earth to Mount Olympus, to the beautiful, self-indulgent Pandora and the gold-stricken Midas—the reader becomes a confidant to the ...

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Overview

Spinning, I can’t stop spinning, so stay a minute, and I, Arachne, will spin a story for you . . .

In this singular collection, the heroes and heroines of fifteen Greek and Roman tales give their own dramatic accounts of events. From the magnificent spinner Arachne, who learns that a mortal should never challenge a god, to the god Pan, who prefers Earth to Mount Olympus, to the beautiful, self-indulgent Pandora and the gold-stricken Midas—the reader becomes a confidant to the tellers of these sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, always engaging tales of wonder, woe, romantic love, and jealousy. Mordicai Gerstein’s energetic, whimsical illustrations combine with Elizabeth Spires’s playful renditions for a totally fresh take on familiar and not-so-familiar myths.

A retelling of fifteen Greek and Roman myths from the point of view of the main protagonist. Includes "Arachne," "Callisto," "Baucis and Philemon," and "Sisyphus."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Spires, author of The Mouse of Amherst (1999) makes ancient tales unusually vivid and immediate by recasting them as first-person accounts. . . . Mordicai Gerstein’s crosshatched ink drawings add touches of visual elegance to the stylish retellings. . . . a truly memorable read-aloud candidate.”—Booklist

“Spires has a poet’s ear for language.”—Voice of Youth Advocates

VOYA
This collection retells Greek and Roman myths using the first-person point of view of one of the characters, but the result is uneven. The structure gives a one-note quality to most of the stories and wears thin after a while. A few stories are told particularly well, such as Baucis and Philemon. Here the old couple takes turns with the story, one jumping in on the other, and the result sounds realistic. Pomona and Vertumnus and Ceyx and Hacyone also are done well, respectively humorous and poignant. The motive behind Spires's content choices, however, is unclear. In King Midas, the author depicts Midas diving out the window into the moat, remarking, "Luckily, the spell didn't work outside the castle. If it had, I might have been swallowed up in a solid gold moat forever." Logically, if the spell does not work outside the castle—never mind that there likely would not have been a moat—why did he not just leave to live elsewhere? The title story about Arachne portrays her weaving a tapestry that places her in the middle, the equivalent of the gods. In traditional myth, however, Arachne wove a picture depicting the weakness of the gods, a much graver transgression than vanity. Overall, Spires has a poet's ear for language, but the stories could use more focus and structural development. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Frances Foster Books/Farrar Straus Giroux, 160p, $16. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Donna Scanlon SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-These tales are presented as first-person accounts, each one no more than six pages, accompanied by a lighthearted drawing that adds little to the story. The softest version is presented-Arachne does not kill herself; Pandora suffers no consequences for her actions; and Midas never touches his daughter, sparing her his golden curse. In addition, the author sometimes ends up spelling out details. Some of the segments are true to the ancient world, while others include anachronisms such as newspapers. It is difficult to determine who the intended audience may be, as the writing is simple, yet some of the versions are a bit sophisticated, and readers familiar with these myths will better appreciate the point of view adopted in the tellings.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Aloha, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Each of these episodes from Greek and Roman mythology is only a few pages long, each is told in the first person, and most of them have the whiny and dissatisfied voice of adolescence. Of course, many of the protagonists were adolescents: Arachne bemoans her vanity in challenging a goddess to a weaving contest and is changed to a spider for her pains; Pandora has to open that box; Narcissus falls in love with the beautiful boy who is his reflection. People get changed to sunflowers (Clytie) or reeds (Syrinx) or stars (Callisto). Ostensibly a new way of looking at these characters—from their own points of view—the result is a flippant tone and a diminishing of the luster of the well-known stories. A bit of verse appears here and there; the illustrations are winsome or melodramatic by turns. A cast of characters (not very much more enlightening than their chapters) and places complete this small volume. Hard to say who the audience is, but kids who have memorized all the Hercules and Xena episodes might enjoy this. (Nonfiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312561253
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 7/21/2009
  • Edition description: STRIPPABLE
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 1,353,919
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Spires is the author of three other books for children, including The Mouse of Amherst, and four collections of poetry for adults. Her next book, I Heard God Talking to Me, will be published by FSG in Spring 2009. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Mordicai Gerstein is the author and illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and has had four books named New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year. He lives in Westhampton, Massachusetts.

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