Persephone

Overview

On a warm spring day, the beautiful young goddess Persephone is snatched from her home by Hades, god of the Underworld, and taken away to live underground and become his bride. Persephone's mother, Demeter, goddess of Earth, is so brokenhearted that she curses the land so nothing can grow — a permanent winter. / How will Persephone and her mother be reunited? Will spring ever come again? / This lyrical retelling of the ancient Greek myth by master storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton is brought to life with Virginia ...

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Overview

On a warm spring day, the beautiful young goddess Persephone is snatched from her home by Hades, god of the Underworld, and taken away to live underground and become his bride. Persephone's mother, Demeter, goddess of Earth, is so brokenhearted that she curses the land so nothing can grow — a permanent winter. / How will Persephone and her mother be reunited? Will spring ever come again? / This lyrical retelling of the ancient Greek myth by master storyteller Sally Pomme Clayton is brought to life with Virginia Lee's beautiful illustrations. Young readers will be intrigued by the dramatic story as well as by its clever explanation for the changing seasons.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In this lively retelling of the Greek myth Persephone, a young goddess, is off by herself enjoying the riches of springtime when Hades, the King of the Underworld, kidnaps her and carries her off to be his reluctant queen. Her mother Demeter, Goddess of Earth, searches for her in vain. Learning that Persephone has been taken underground, Demeter curses and freezes the earth. Zeus, King of the Gods, sends Hermes to demand the return of Persephone. Hades agrees, but insists that Persephone eat before she leaves. When she returns, the earth above comes back to life. But Demeter's joy is diminished when she learns that Persephone has eaten three pomegranate seeds in the Underworld. This requires her to return there for three months every year. And so we have winter on Earth. Double-page scenes of detailed landscapes and underground caverns form the environment of the melodrama. Using mixed media, Lee has reproduced the flavor of ancient Greek painting, including stylized horses, curling hair and beard. The controlled hues of the browns of the Underworld and the greens of Earth evoke associated emotions. The scene of the chariot ride through Hades is particularly effective. Notes fill in information about the legend and its continuing significance. Don't pass by the end pages and title page. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Lyrical language and vivid details make for a strong retelling of this Greek myth, as Persephone is "plucked" from a flower-filled field, carried off to the Underworld by Hades, and sought out and mourned for by her distraught mother, Demeter. The story follows a traditional path, and Clayton makes connections to day-to-day life and the harvest cycle in the narrative and in her interesting afterword. Demeter welcomes her daughter home with a feast of "fresh bread, white cheese, dark olives, and cool glasses of barley water" and her seasonal comings and goings are marked by changes to the environment ("Ice melts and the ground grows soft. Earth bears fruit....Spring has come again"). Lee's mixed-media paintings, showing stylized classical-looking figures, effectively use color and tone to convey the characters' emotions: Persephone is aglow with happiness in a spring-hued scenario or wrapped in deep despair in Hades's dark kingdom. Cutaways simultaneously depict above- and belowground scenes (for example, Demeter rests in a sunlit pool while Persephone sits on a lonely Underworld throne) to underscore the story's themes. Add this fine picture book to mythology sections.-Joy Fleishhacker , School Library Journal

Kirkus Reviews
When Hades sees Persephone gathering flowers in a field, he carries her off to the underworld to be his queen. Her mother Demeter is so distraught that she curses Earth with endless winter. With intervention from Zeus and other gods, Persephone is found and rejoins her mother. But she ate pomegranate seeds while in the underworld and so must spend three months each year with Hades, during which time winter occurs above ground. This pourquoi tale from ancient Greek mythology has everything to recommend it to modern readers. Clayton employs vivid imagery, powerful emotions and loads of action to convey adventure, grief, love, drama and the circle of life. Dialogue is crisp and accessible, while retaining just a hint of the formality expected of gods and goddesses. Lee's imaginative illustrations, detailed in glowing earth tones and sweeping across double-page spreads, complement the action. In depicting the characters, she borrows features from Greek statues but manages to give them humanity. A beautiful retelling of an enduring myth. (Picture book/mythology. 7-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802853493
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 3/1/2009
  • Pages: 28
  • Sales rank: 490,712
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • Lexile: 610L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.70 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sally Pomme Clayton is an internationally acclaimed storyteller, children's book author, and award-winning playwright. Her previous books for children include Amazons! Women Warriors of the World and Tales Told in Tents (both Frances Lincoln). Sally lives in England.

Virginia Lee worked on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy creating architectural details for the sets. She has also illustrated the children's book Frog Bride by Antonia Barber (Frances Lincoln). Virginia lives in England.

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