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The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greeks Myths, Retold
     

The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greeks Myths, Retold

by Cynthia Rylant, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
 

Newbery Medal-winner Cynthia Rylant retells her favorite stories from Greek mythology, breathing fresh life into the tales of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus, and Psyche. The writing is lyrical and understated, a perfect tone for stories that introduce young readers to themes of love and loss, pride and forgiveness. Carson Ellis's elegant

Overview

Newbery Medal-winner Cynthia Rylant retells her favorite stories from Greek mythology, breathing fresh life into the tales of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus, and Psyche. The writing is lyrical and understated, a perfect tone for stories that introduce young readers to themes of love and loss, pride and forgiveness. Carson Ellis's elegant black-and-white illustrations lend an aura of beauty and mystery.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rylant’s clear explanations of relationships between gods and mortals as well as the underlying motivations and significance of each myth avoid condescension without sacrificing the details, richness and conventions of the original stories. Ellis’s formal black-and-white drawings are reminiscent of stylized classical Greek art and illustrate a dramatic moment from each myth. The small, square format completes this accessible and classy introduction to Greek mythology."—Kirkus Reviews

"Rylant offers simplified, accessible versions of the myths and curtails their more troubled meanings. Ellis’s soft pencil drawings bedeck this elegant-looking little book with visions of flowers, garlands, and comely maidens."—Horn Book

". . . hones six myths into clear, accessible stories for younger readers. Plainspoken and captivating, they draw readers into the sagas . . . The stories grab attention with intriguing introductions . . . Ellis, illustrator of the Mysterious Benedict Society books, employs delicate pencil drawings to render the characters amid the organic: flowers, fruit, leaves and twisting vines. The small format reflects the book's purpose: to be a pleasurable sampling of some well-known Greek myths, their ideas and morals distilled to their core."—Publishers Weekly

"The collection is fashioned to relate tales of love, pride, struggle, and triumph; Rylant has chosen a good complement of myths to retell, sticking to the standard versions of each one. Accompanied by full-page black-and-white illustrations and sprinkled with decorations, the whole package is nicely done. Readers who enjoy a good romance or just a well-told tale will be satisfied with this small book, and those looking for material for reports will find the necessary elements within. Collections needing fresh additions to their mythology section should consider this one."—School Library Journal

“There is fluidity in the telling . . . a useful contrast to more irreverent or raucous retellings, especially in a setting where the focus is on the message more than the cultural significance.”—The Bulletin

Publishers Weekly

Rylant (All in a Day) hones six myths into clear, accessible stories for younger readers. Plainspoken and captivating, they draw readers into the sagas of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus and Psyche. The stories grab attention with intriguing introductions, e.g., "In winter, when ice coats the thin arms of small trees and flowers die... Persephone can be found among the dead. She is their queen. She did not ever mean to be so, but it happened." Rylant's observations about the characters and their foibles focus the brisk-paced retellings ("Perhaps it was not love that Pygmalion wanted so much as notice"). At the heart of each is a soul-stealing kind of love that demands extremes from its participants, for example, Psyche enduring Aphrodite's impossible tests to prove her love for Eros. Ellis, illustrator of the Mysterious Benedict Society books, employs delicate pencil drawings to render the characters amid the organic: flowers, fruit, leaves and twisting vines. The small format reflects the book's purpose: to be a pleasurable sampling of some well-known Greek myths, their ideas and morals distilled to their core. Ages 10-up. (May)

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Children's Literature - Denise Daley
Six popular Greek myths are beautifully retold in this collection by renowned children's author Cynthia Rylant. The classic tales of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus, and Psyche have been adapted for this work. Some of the vocabulary may be challenging for younger readers, but the lessons will not be lost. In the story about Narcissus, for example, readers may not fully understand how the main character "vexed" the gods in his pursuit of "ecstasy." They will, however, learn that the ancient Greeks attribute echoes to a shy character who did not respond to a question asked of her by the goddess Hera. As a result, she was cursed and could never again speak for herself; she could only repeat what others have said. Each of these stories is entertaining, and all will surely be retold and enjoyed again by future generations. There are a few black-and-white illustrations interspersed throughout the book and these add to the appeal of the timeless stories. Reviewer: Denise Daley
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

Rylant retells the stories of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus, and Psyche in this trim, handsome book. Written in a modern style with an old-fashioned feel, the selections sit well with other titles in the genre. The collection is fashioned to relate tales of love, pride, struggle, and triumph; Rylant has chosen a good complement of myths to retell, sticking to the standard versions of each one. Accompanied by full-page black-and-white illustrations and sprinkled with decorations, the whole package is nicely done. Readers who enjoy a good romance or just a well-told tale will be satisfied with this small book, and those looking for material for reports will find the necessary elements within. Collections needing fresh additions to their mythology section should consider this one.-Angela J. Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Bridgetown, NS, Canada

Kirkus Reviews
With elegant simplicity, Rylant retells the stories of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus and Psyche, six popular Greek myths involving powerful and poignant emotions. Pandora's curiosity unleashes suffering on the world, but she salvages hope. When Hades abducts her daughter Persephone, Demeter's grief causes the seasons to change. Orpheus's inability to accept his bride's untimely death leads to his own demise. Pygmalion's passion for the beautiful woman he carves from marble brings her to life. Narcissus's fixation on his own perfect image destroys him as well as the adoring Echo. Psyche's selfless devotion to Eros survives Aphrodite's jealous testing. The choices are appropriate for kids, who often fail to grasp complex mythical themes. Rylant's clear explanations of relationships between gods and mortals as well as the underlying motivations and significance of each myth avoid condescension without sacrificing the details, richness and conventions of the original stories. Ellis's formal black-and-white drawings are reminiscent of stylized classical Greek art and illustrate a dramatic moment from each myth. The small, square format completes this accessible and classy introduction to Greek mythology. (Mythology. 10 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780152061845
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
05/04/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
88
Sales rank:
196,718
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

CYNTHIA RYLANT is the acclaimed author of more than one hundred books for children and teens, and her novel Missing May was awarded the Newbery Medal. She lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

CARSON ELLIS illustrated the children's novel The Mysterious Benedict Society, a New York Times Book Review bestseller. She's also known for creating the artwork on the album covers for the rock band the Decemberists. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

www.carsonellis.com

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