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The Odyssey

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Overview

A bold re-envisioning of The Odyssey, told with simplicity and style — perfect for fans of graphic retellings and mythology enthusiasts alike.

Odysseus faces storm and shipwreck, a terrifying man-eating Cyclops, the alluring but deadly Sirens, and the fury of the sea-god Poseidon as he makes his ten-year journey home from the Trojan War. While Odysseus struggles to make it home, his wife, Penelope, fights a different kind of battle as her palace is invaded by forceful, greedy ...

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Overview

A bold re-envisioning of The Odyssey, told with simplicity and style — perfect for fans of graphic retellings and mythology enthusiasts alike.

Odysseus faces storm and shipwreck, a terrifying man-eating Cyclops, the alluring but deadly Sirens, and the fury of the sea-god Poseidon as he makes his ten-year journey home from the Trojan War. While Odysseus struggles to make it home, his wife, Penelope, fights a different kind of battle as her palace is invaded by forceful, greedy men who tell her that Odysseus is dead and she must choose a new husband. Will Odysseus reach her in time? Homer’s epic, age-old story is powerfully told by Carnegie Medalist Gillian Cross and stunningly illustrated by rising talent Neil Packer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this stunning, heavily illustrated retelling, Cross (Where I Belong) gives shivery life to Homer’s saga, keeping the suspense taut and recounting the story’s most disturbing events without flinching. When giant, loutish Laestrygonians slaughter boatloads of Odysseus’s men, the survivors are horrorstruck (“Sobbing with grief and shock, the sailors pulled away from that hateful shore”).When Odysseus travels to the Land of the Dead, ghosts crowd around the visitors: “Old men with gray hair brushed against newly married brides.” Not until the final pages do the gods allow Odysseus a measure of triumph. While Cross’s prose makes Odysseus’s journey not just accessible but thrilling, the book really belongs to Packer. Some of his images look like the friezes on the sides of Greek kraters; others are full-color portraits of gaunt warriors with haunted gazes or caricatures of their Bosch-like adversaries. Humor and horror coexist; sirens like patrician socialites lounge disdainfully above the buried skeletons of those they’ve lured to their deaths. Every image seems to have been created with unhurried care; it’s a quiet but monumental piece of work. Ages 8–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Every image seems to have been created with unhurried care; it’s a quiet but monumental piece of work.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Gorgeous.
—The Huffington Post

While Cross and Packer are not asking us to replace Homer on the bookshelf, their addition is certainly worthy of sharing shelf space.
—New York Daily News online

Interesting and imaginative.
—School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
Cyclops, Circe, phantoms, a beautiful princess, vengeful Poseidon's raging seas—they are all here, as Carnegie Medal-winner Cross retells for young readers the ancient tale of Odysseus's haunted journey. Homer's text (was there a Homer?) is condensed and made accessible by using dialogue, questions, and a direct, streamlined vocabulary that somehow manages to retain its gravity and otherness (yes, the "wine-dark sea" is here). Cross does not hesitate to keep the Greek names for places and people—part of the magic—reinforced by Packer's use of Greek letters in some of his designs. Packer says he worked almost ten years on the pictures and they are, indeed, intricately conceived. He likes black silhouettes, using them to enhance the story, as in a parade of Circe's pigs turning into men, or for effects like Odysseus whirling to throw a heavy discus. In muted gold, silhouettes can denote distance, evoking Telemachus and Penelope far away in Ithaca; especially striking are two long columns suggesting Penelope's loom with its hanging weights. Color glows on other pages: striped tunics in many hues, deep blue waves, lush vegetation, and Circe's long red hair. The people and monsters aren't pretty; many are grotesque, but they lend a sense of ancientness and mystery, as in Packer's family tree of the Gods, where a chocolate-brown Zeus sets off his crowned white hair and beard with a scaly tank-top and brightly tabbed armor, while corpulent Poseidon in a fishnet vest sports wispy hair tied in sailor's knots. Offering so much to see and experience, this edition will be a voyage of discovery for readers new to Odysseus's world. Those fascinated with Homer might enjoy comparing Cross and Packer's version with Rosemary Sutcliff's elegant retelling and Alan Lee's more conventional, but lush illustrations (Wanderings of Odysseus, Delacorte, 1996). Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This handsome book blends a well-paced rendition of Homer's ancient tale with fine-art-style illustrations. The narrative is divided into chapters ("The Giant in the Cave" or "Stranded on Calypso's Island"), clearly conveying the sequence of Odysseus's twist-turning journey. Succinct sentences, vivid descriptions, and dynamic language keep the action unfolding rapidly while also emphasizing fateful moments of hubris (for example, the hero's getaway from the Cyclops's cave and subsequent taunting of the creature is summed up: "It would have been the perfect escape-if only Odysseus had kept his mouth shut"). Ranging from small insets to double-page renderings, Packer's gouache, pen, and wash illustrations appear on almost every spread. While many details hark back to this epic work's origins (costumes, textiles, outlines reminiscent of classical urns, etc.), the art has a contemporary aura, showcasing unusual perspectives and distorted size relationships, exaggerated physical characteristics, and modern references (Hermes wears a track suit). Flowing cutaways reveal faces of the souls nestled in the underworld, or gracefully posed Sirens surrounded by the skeletons of those who were attracted to their songs. The men transformed into animals by Circe are shown as pigs with the shapes of profiled faces incorporated into the mottled colors of their coats. Though interesting and imaginative, the visual interpretations are sophisticated and stylized, perhaps making the book best suited to readers with a more mature taste in artwork or an adult audience.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
An anemic retelling of the epic is paired to crabbed, ugly illustrations. Breaking for occasional glimpses back to Penelope's plight in Ithaca, Cross relates Odysseus' travels in a linear narrative that begins with his departure for Troy but skips quickly over the war's events to get to the sack of the city of the Cicones and events following. Along with being careless about continuity (Odysseus' men are "mad with thirst" on one page and a few pages later swilling wine that they had all the time, for instance), the reteller's language is inconsistent in tone. It is sprinkled with the requisite Homeric references to the "wine-dark sea" and Dawn's rosy fingers but also breaks occasionally into a modern-sounding idiom: " ‘What's going on?' Athene said, looking around at the rowdy suitors." Packer decorates nearly every spread with either lacy figures silhouetted in black or gold or coarsely brushed paintings depicting crouching, contorted humans, gods and monsters with, generally, chalky skin, snaggled teeth, beer bellies or other disfigurements. The overall effect is grim, mannered and remote. Next to the exhilarating renditions of Rosemary Sutcliff (The Wanderings of Odysseus, 1996) and Geraldine McCaughrean (Odysseus, 2004), this version makes bland reading, and the contorted art is, at best a poor match. (afterword, maps) (Illustrated classic. 11-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763647919
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/11/2012
  • Pages: 178
  • Sales rank: 130,022
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Gillian Cross is the Carnegie Medal–winning author of Wolf. She lives in England.

Neil Packer is the illustrator of several classic books, including One Hundred Years of Solitude. His illustrations for The Odyssey took many years — "Nearly as long as Odysseus’s journey!" he says. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 25, 2013

    This was so much fun. It took about 3 weeks to read this to my 6

    This was so much fun. It took about 3 weeks to read this to my 6,6, and 8-year-olds and we all loved it. Tonight they begged me to finish it and cheered when Odysseus returned. What a great retelling of this story. And a great introduction to the classics at a young age.

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