Young Zeus

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Overview


From acclaimed illustrator and author G. Brian Karas comes a witty tale about navigating family and finding one's voice-based on Greek mythology!

This is the story of how young Zeus, with a little help from six monsters, five Greek gods, an enchanted she-goat, and his mother, became god of gods, master of lightning and thunder, and ruler over all. in doing so, he learned a lot about family. Who knew that having relatives could be so ...

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Overview


From acclaimed illustrator and author G. Brian Karas comes a witty tale about navigating family and finding one's voice-based on Greek mythology!

This is the story of how young Zeus, with a little help from six monsters, five Greek gods, an enchanted she-goat, and his mother, became god of gods, master of lightning and thunder, and ruler over all. in doing so, he learned a lot about family. Who knew that having relatives could be so complicated, even for a god?

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Before he reigned supreme on Mount Olympus, Zeus was a plucky kid living in Crete out of sight of his father Cronus. His grandmother told him the harrowing tale of Cronus, who left the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handers to suffer in the underworld and ate his own children, so afraid was he that one of them would overthrow him. Only Zeus escaped the fate carefully hidden away by his mother. A brave and fearless lad, Zeus sets out to find Cronus and when he meets up with the sleeping monster, he frees his siblings by pouring a foul potion down Cronus' throat. The bickering brothers and sisters in typical fashion fail to heed their little brother's warnings and so it is left to Zeus to liberate the Cyclopes and the Hundred-Handers and slay the mighty Titans by flinging lightning bolts from the highest mountaintop. His chagrined but still grumbling siblings disagree about how things should be run on Mount Olympus until Zeus yells, "From now on we do things my way." And they do. What fun there is in this rollicking and irreverent tale that mixes classical language with simple direct colloquial expressions. The bickering family has all the foibles and fun of a typical modern family, and readers are sure to identify their own sibling among Zeus' many brothers and sisters. The very readable text that abounds with humor just may encourage children to give the myths a "go." The comic illustrations rendered in gouache and pencil have a smoky texture, with the tiny Zeus seemingly no match for the horrific monsters. What child will not giggle at the sight of the siblings being spewed from the mouth of Cronus? It is wacky and irreverent but that is what makes it so appealing. This great real aloud gets a solid two thumbs up. Reviewer: Beverley Fahey
Publishers Weekly
Karas (On Earth) opens this spirited embellishment of Zeus's little-documented boyhood with an author's note explaining that he drew from early accounts of the Greek gods and “true to the nature of myths, imagined the rest.” Fans of Greek mythology will be familiar with the details of Zeus's childhood on Crete in the care of the enchanted goat, Amaltheia, hidden from his father, Cronus, who has swallowed his siblings. But Karas's imagination serves him well in making Zeus a relatable character (Zeus's motivation for rescuing the other gods is to be able to “play with my brothers and sisters”). Droll dialogue and asides mitigate the tale's dark undertones: after Zeus frees his siblings (who look “surprisingly good” for having been eaten whole), they bicker about who's boss, and a hungry dragon asks Zeus if he's “a sweet meaty treat.” Energetic, airy gouache and pencil cartoons playfully skew scale and also keep the tone light, as when the diminutive young gods pounce on gigantic Cronus (“Take that!”) before throwing him into the sea, and thunderbolt-hurling Zeus dispenses with the mammoth Titans. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Karas retells this Greek myth with one eye on the classics and the other firmly focused on drawing in contemporary readers. The story is related by Amaltheia, the enchanted she-goat enlisted by Rhea to raise her son and keep him hidden from his treacherous Titan father. Though Zeus's early life is idyllic, he eventually learns family history: Cronus, worried about being supplanted, had eaten all of his children (Rhea had cleverly slipped him a stone in place of Zeus) and left his siblings (the Cyclopes and Hundred-Handers) to languish in the underworld. More interested in having playmates than seizing absolute power, Zeus journeys forth to free his brothers and sisters (and his monstrous uncles), defeat his fearsome father, and tamp down the Titans. The story unfolds in all of its action-packed complexity, tempered by a clear narrative voice and Zeus's gleefully childlike perspective (having taken his bickering siblings in hand, he "became ruler of heaven and earth. He divided up chores and scheduled playtimes…. And thus began fun and order on Mount Olympus"). The stylized gouache and pencil on textured paper illustrations have an earthy, almost smoky palette. While Zeus and his siblings are humanlike, the Titans are appropriately depicted as large, looming, and terrifying (Cronus's menacing leer is punctuated by his round jagged-toothed mouth). Dramatically shifting perspectives underscore the point that though Zeus is much smaller than his foes, his cleverness and courage allow him to prevail. An inviting, slightly irreverent, and absolutely rewarding romp through mythology.—Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
Adding a few details of his own (" ‘I'm Zeus, your brother,' said the victorious young god. ‘Let's play!' ") to ancient sources, Karas tracks the mighty lad as he grows up in hiding, forces his father Cronus to vomit up his older brother-and-sister gods, then frees his aunts and uncles the Cyclopes and Hundred-Handers to battle their own sibs, the Titans, for supremacy. Using pencil and gouache on heavily textured paper, the author/illustrator creates hazy scenes of the lightly draped gods and their diminutive rescuer quarreling amongst themselves, oblivious to the huge, brutish monsters closing in. Both playful scale and amusing details will ensure illustrations get second and even third looks. Carrying a sheaf of oversized lightning bolts, Zeus prevails against both the Titans and his immediate clan, ushering in an age of "fun and order on Mount Olympus." Underplaying the old tale's violence (and leaving the gods' sexual "fun" out altogether) without losing its general drift, the author crafts a robust but light alternative to the plethora of more conventional renditions available. (dramatis personae, author's note) (Picture book/mythology. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439728065
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2010
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 282,437
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD570L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


G. Brian Karas is the prolific and versatile illustrator and writer of many children's books including Atlantic and Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley, both ALA Notable Books and Home on the Bayou, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor title. The New York Times describes his work as "...depicted in a childlike style that belies the sophistication of the drawings. Exquisite and moving in its subtlety." He lives in the Hudson Valley of New York with his family. Visit him a gbriankaras.com.
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