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Children's LiteratureThis wonderful collection of myths follows the lesser-known Greek deity, Hermes (also known as Mercury), as he does Zeus' bidding amid humans, gods, and goddesses alike. Spinner chose Hermes as her focus based upon her interest in his role as "the ultimate Olympian insider" due to "his cunning, his curiosity, and his mischievous nature." He is always in the right place at the right time, and his intimate view of the world provides a unique perspective in considering the ancient tales. We follow Hermes on five mythical adventures. He bears witness to the stories of Demeter and Persephone, Perseus and Medusa, the Judgement of Paris, the Trojan War, and Calypso's release of Odysseus adding his characteristic humor and charm—and aversion to violence—to each. As a motif running throughout the tales, Hermes, as the son and personal messenger of Zeus, is humanized by his desire to make his father proud. He becomes a full character as well as a gossipmonger. Even those not familiar with the myths will find Hermes' rendering easy to follow, compelling, and rich with enough detail to provide a sense of the originals and perhaps inspire interested readers to follow up and read more on their own. To help comprehension, the text also includes a map of Greece circa 1500 B.C., a glossary of characters, and an author's note. Highly recommended for classroom use and independent reading. 2005, Knopf, Ages 12 to 17.
—Wendy Glenn, Ph.D.