The Twelve Labors of Hercules

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 3-6A handsomely illustrated book that serves as a useful antidote to the Disney interpretation of the Greek hero's life. It tells of Hercules's birth (his semi-divine origin earned him Hera's hatred, thus dooming him to tragedy) and death, but focuses on the famous labors he performed as penance for slaying his wife and children in a Hera-induced fit of madness. The story sticks fairly closely to the myths as set forth in Edith Hamilton's Mythology (Little, Brown, 1950), although the lion that provides him the signature pelt was not the Nemean lion of his second labor as here, but an earlier beast, the Thespian lion (ancient Greece seems to have been fairly infested with lions). The hero's personality comes through, especially his impulsiveness, which often causes harm to those he loves, as does his strength and physical courage. Balit's illustrations are stylized and powerful, done in rich colors and metallic gold ink. For some reason, she portrays Hercules with his upper arms and torso encircled with black bindings, perhaps to emphasize his muscles; his face, however, seems broodingly introspective, showing him as the tragic figure he was. Both Doris Gates's Mightiest of Mortals (Viking, 1984) and Bernard Evslin's Hercules (Morrow, 1984; o.p.) give more depth and detail to the hero's life; however, they lack the full-color illustrations that make this retelling so appealing.Pam Gosner, formerly at Maplewood Memorial Library, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761303152
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/1997
  • Series: Single Titles Ser.
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 8 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.75 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.52 (d)

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