×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Strong Stuff: Herakles and His Labors
     

Strong Stuff: Herakles and His Labors

by John Harris
 

Herakles was one of the greatest of all Greek heroes, and his exploits have been celebrated in paintings, songs, poetry, and sculpture for thousands of years. Now it's time for him to have his own children's book, one devoted exclusively to his labors and adventures.
Written by John Harris and illustrated by artist Gary Baseman, Strong Stuff tells the amazing

Overview

Herakles was one of the greatest of all Greek heroes, and his exploits have been celebrated in paintings, songs, poetry, and sculpture for thousands of years. Now it's time for him to have his own children's book, one devoted exclusively to his labors and adventures.
Written by John Harris and illustrated by artist Gary Baseman, Strong Stuff tells the amazing stories of the Stymphalian Birds (defeated by crashing cymbals), creepy King Geryon (with three heads AND three bodies), the Augean Stables (don't ask), and nine other labors that Herakles performed. This is a one-of-a-kind account of the great mythological hero in action.

Stong stuff!

With a super-helpful map and a pronunciation guide for those sometimes-hard-to-pronounce classical names.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Greek hero Herakles (aka Hercules) "made the world a more livable place by removing terrifying creatures and major nuisances," but this jokey cartoon retelling doesn't do justice to his blood-and-guts battles. Herakles is the illegitimate son of Zeus, tormented by Zeus's wife, Hera, and he serves King Eurystheus of Mycenae, who sends him on 12 dangerous missions. His first duty involves "The Nemean Lion. Assignment: Kill it." According to Harris's (Greece! Rome! Monsters!) slangy text, the lion's "skin was so thick, no arrow could pierce it. Ditto spears. Ditto Herakles' trusty sword." So the hero strangles the lion and takes its skin ("a kind of gross souvenir") to wear as armor and "because-let's face it-it looked so good on his extremely athletic body." Graphic artist Baseman (Dumb Luck) paints Herakles as a muscular lummox in lace-up sandals. With his saucer eyes, pompadour and crosshatched five o'clock shadow, Herakles doesn't look like the sharpest tack, but he survives a pecking by the metal-beaked Stymphalian Birds and tames the man-eating Horses of Diomedes (with their blue fur and bloodshot eyes). Helpful "How's That Again?" footnotes supply pronunciation hints and the endpapers map the homes of creatures such as the Lernaean Hydra and the Cretan Bull (although smallish print undermines the readability). Harris's chuckling banter and Baseman's crudely painted images (dead things have X's for eyes) inject a wan comedy lacking in the original myths, but fail to make Herakles likable; he's just a dopey hunk doing odd jobs. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Strong stuff indeed—a muscular super-hero, man-eating horses, iron-beaked birds, filthy stables, a sexy female warrior, and even Cerberus, the three-headed dog of Hades! Bateman's gaudy, cartoon-like paintings provide humor while complementing Harris's chatty narration detailing Herakles's amazing and often bloody adventures. Harry Potter readers already know about Cerberus, but here is a chance for lovers of myth and magic to learn about the muscle man's other opponents, that so often turn up in painting, sculpture, and literature. The Greeks loved it; this report on Herakles's assignments acquaints readers with all twelve of the legendary tasks accomplished by the greatest of their heroes. It is not subtle, but it is funny, and what middle-school adventure-lover would not relish Herakles crushing the Stymphalian birds with crashing cymbals or fighting off a gigantic green Hydra with a sickle and a torch? The hero's encounters with women include a blue Delphic oracle with sunglasses, a scantily-but metallically-clad Hippolyta, and, at the end, his obese retirement sipping nectar with lovely Hebe, Goddess of Youth. This may not be for everyone as it does involve a great deal of killing of both man and legendary beast. But most young readers who hope to become literate will profit from this introduction to the ancient super-hero in his trademark club and lion's skin. Even adults may find it a useful and fascinating reminder of monsters and deeds that haunt us still. 2005, Getty Publications, Ages 8 up.
—Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-This simplified version of the 12 labors of Hercules (Herakles as the Greeks called him) will delight young children with its gory stories. Each labor is allotted a spread with bright and bold illustrations featuring Herakles locked in mortal combat with the monster of the moment, accompanied by a chatty, humorous commentary. Reducing the complicated actions and themes of Greek myths is difficult, but the author handles it well. Each verso corner has a "How's that again?" box with a guide to pronunciation of major characters and places, and the endpapers offer a map of Greece that shows the main locations of the labors. The illustrations, while cartoonish, nevertheless faithfully reproduce the salient points of each incident. A fun look at an ancient hero.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Another campy take on ancient mythology from the author of Greece! Rome! Monsters! (2002), illustrated by Calef Brown. Here, "the most famous of all heroes" (do you doubt?) tackles the Nemean Lion (carrying away its skin as "a kind of gross souvenir"), the Hind of Keryneia, the Erymanthian Boar ("a very big pig with absolutely no manners") and nine other "labors-tasks, jobs, what have you," in expiation for being tricked into killing his family by "Hera, Queen of Olympos, who never, ever gave Herakles a break." Baseman matches Harris's breezy tone with big, cartoony scenes featuring a pink-skinned, mightily thewed he-man with a pompadour and severe five o'clock shadow taking on a series of challenges-some of which, the author points out, required as much brain as brawn-with aplomb. Offered with a map and "How's that again?" pronunciation guides, this fresh, funny rendition definitely blows the dust off the old tales, while staying surprisingly close to traditional versions. (Picture book/folktale. 7-11)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780892367849
Publisher:
Getty Publications
Publication date:
08/15/2005
Series:
Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
9.00(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

John Harris is senior editor at Getty Publications. He is the author of Greece! Rome! Monsters! Gary Baseman is the three-time Emmy and BAFTA award-winning creator of the animated series and film Teacher's Pet. Dumb Luck, a book of his art, was published in 2004.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews