Author: Robert Lancelyn Green
Illustrator: Alan Langford
First Published: 1958
I love Greek Mythology. I mean, I read the Iliad for fun my senior year. These old stories fascinate me.
Not surprisingly, I'm a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series and anything by Rick Riordan. So, when I was in Borders the other day, trying to remember the name of a certain Greek heroine, I gravitated towards a table full of Mr. Riordan's works and found this book sitting there among them, as Rick wrote the intro for this new edition. I picked and up and, low and behold, there was the story of the heroine whose name I was trying to remember; Atalanta!
As a thank you for helping me find the name I, of course, bought the book.
This book contains 19 different Greek myths, each featuring one or more famous Greek heroes or Gods. The awesome thing about the way this book is put together, though, is that, instead of telling each story as a seperate entity, Mr. Green was able to make each story connect, almost making it into one long myth instead of a collection of short ones, which, if you think of it, is how the stories should be told. The Greeks thought of these more as accounts of history than mere stories, so they would have regarded them as one whole entity.
The retelling of these stories is well done. Some of them are different versions than the ones I've heard before, but that's typical of the Greek Myths; never the same story twice. That's what you get when you rely on oral tradition to pass stories down from generation to generation, but hey, it was cheaper than trying to write it on paper!
I discovered that Mr. Green was a member of The Inklings Club. Don't know of them? Well, to make a long story short, it was a society of writers whose numbers included some prestigious names such as J.R.R. Tolkien (fangirl squee) and C.S. Lewis (x2). Anyone here a Chronicles of Narnia fan? Well, you better be thanking your lucky stars that Robert Lancelyn Green was a member of this club. C.S. Lewis first read the first couple of chapters of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to Tolkien, who told him that 'they weren't really that good'. But luckily, he decided to take them to Green next, who informed Lewis that he thought they were wonderful and he wanted to read more. He even gave Lewis an idea for a name for the series; Chronicles of Narnia.
But back to his own works...
This book has some wonderful features as well. It contains an informative Author's Note, a list of the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece and their names in Latin, maps of the Argo's voyage, an Author File that gives background info on the author and his works, some 'fun facts', a who's who guide, some book study questions, a couple activities to try, and a glossary.
With all this in tow, this book can serve as way more than just a good read. I know this may sound scary to some, but it could be (le gasp!) educational. As a future teacher, I'm loving the questions and activities. I'm just dreaming up what I could do with a class using this book as my guide. It almost plans out the lesson for you. Go History/English class!!
So... Would I recommend this book? Yeah, yeah I would. I highly recommend any fans of the Percy Jackson series pick this up. Oh heck, anyone interested in Greek Myth should give it a go. And teachers... You may want to check this one out as well. (Wonder if any teachers will read this blog? We'll see...) A classic that retells the classics. Adventure, excitement, history, and a team of flesh-eating horses.
What more could you ask for?