Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, mythology, Uncategorized

Tails and Tales Bundle: Thundercluck and Zeus the Mighty

Since I’ve been talking about Summer Reading and book bundles, I thought I’d start making some fun suggestions. For anyone doing the Tails and Tales theme, Thundercluck: Chicken of Thor by Paul Tillery IV and Meg Wittwer and the Zeus the Mighty series from Crispin Boyer fit the bill and have the shared mythological theme, too!

Thundercluck! Chicken of Thor: Recipe for Revenge, by Paul Tillery IV/Illustrated by Meg Wittwer, (Sept. 2020, Square Fish), $7.99, ISBN: 9781250619785

Ages 8-11

The second Thundercluck adventure is just as much fun as the first. Thundercluck and Brunhilde, the Valkyrie, find themselves on the outs with Odin, and head to Midgard (that’s us, Earth!) to match wits against three foes. Gorman the angry skull is back with two new fiends: Medda, a shape-shifting enchantress, and War-Tog, a warthog warrior that is too easily led into poor decisions. Thundercluck is a story of friendship being tested, and family secrets learned, but at its heart, it’s a story of learning to admit one’s mistakes. Black and white illustrations and a quickly-moving story makes this an excellent Summer Reading choice; you don’t need to have read the first book to jump on board, but the kids will want to.

Summer Reading ideas: Book bundle with the first Thundercluck and printables from the Thundercluck website; book bundle with Zeus the Mighty for a Tails and Tales spin on mythology; display with other mythology chapter books, like Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams’s Thunder Girls seriesDon’t forget to have reference resources, like National Geographic’s Everything Mythology, available!

 

Zeus the Mighty: The Quest for the Golden Fleas (Book 1), by Crispin Boyer, (Oct. 2019, Under the Stars), $12.99, ISBN: 9781426335471

Ages 8-12

The first book in another fun series from National Geographic Kids and their fiction imprint, Under the Stars. Zeus the Mighty is a hamster who lives in Mount Olympus Pet Center with a variety of rescued animals, and heroines. Artie – short for Artemis, naturally – is the human the runs the Center and names her favorite rescues after Greek mythological heroes. The group all listen to a podcast, Greeking Out, that tells the stories of the Greek gods, but the animals take the stories to heart. Zeus believes he rules Mount Olympus, putting him at odds with Poseidon, the puffer fish who won’t give up control of his watery Atlantis and bristles at Zeus’s attempts to boss him around. Their first adventure is a quest for the Golden Fleas: a fun retelling of the tale of Jason, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece. The storytelling is light, there are cute black and white illustrations throughout, and a section on “The Truth Behind the Fiction” adds the perfect amount of nonfiction context to the story. Consider adding this to your shelves.

Summer Reading Ideas: Bundle with the second book in the series, The Maze of the Menacing Minotaur (the third book is out in August!) and add some printables from the Zeus the Mighty website. Display with other Greek mythology-flavored fiction, like Joan Holub and Suzanne William’s Goddess Girls and the Heroes in Training series, by Joan Holub, Suzanne Williams, and Tracey West. National Geographic has a great Weird But True book on Greek Mythology, too.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Middle School, Tween Reads

Legends of Olympus by Alane Adams: Go Questing!

I just finished both Legends of Olympus books by Alane Adams, who you may know from the Legends of Orkney series. If you have Percy Jackson/Rick Riordan readers in your library or your family, this is the next series to hand them. Let’s take a look.

Eye of Zeus, by Alane Adams, (April 2020, SparkPress), $12.95, ISBN: 9781684630288

Ages 9-13

In the first book in the Legends of Olympus series, we meet Phoebe Katz, foundling. She was discovered by her social worker, Carl, as an infant, in a basket at a bus stop, and she’s been through a series of foster homes and schools since. Now 11 years old, she’s the ne’er do well at school, sticking with her two friends, Damian and Angie, to get through the days. But Phoebe learns that she’s not like the other kids – it’s not being a foster kid that sets her apart, either. Maybe it’s that giant statue of Atlas in New York’s Rockefeller Center, that starts talking to her, that gives her the clue? Phoebe has just learned that she’s a daughter of Zeus, king of the Greek gods, and more: she’s the twin sister to Perseus, slayer of Medusa. Being the daughter of THE head of the Greek gods brings trouble, though, especially when she learns that a prophecy claims she will destroy Olympus. Only a quest to collect six talismans from Greek monsters will fix everything, so Phoebe, Angie, and Damian are off to Ancient Greece to set things right. An exciting adventure through Greek mythology, with smart, likable characters kids will cheer for. There are interesting conversations to be had about friendship, loyalty, and found families, all topics kids will relate to. Black and white illustrations add to the interest.

 

The Medusa Quest, by Alane Adams, (April 2021, SparkPress), $12.95, ISBN: 9781684630752

Ages 9-13

This is the second book in the Legends of Olympus series. Things have been looking up for Phoebe, but don’t get too comfortable! The three friends learn that their last visit to Ancient Greece has messed up mythology, and if they don’t go back to fix things, there’s going to be BIG TROUBLE. When they arrive back in Ancient Greece, Phoebe learns that her twin brother, Perseus, is in big danger of being turned to stone by the Gorgon, Medusa, so Damien and Angie join the quest to help Hercules get his confidence back and save Perseus. They have some help, from their friends, the Pegasuses and Phoebe’s half-sister, the goddess Athena, and they’re going to need it! The action is absolutely ramped up in this sequel, and the characters have grown from their experiences in the first book. There’s a strong emphasis on family and found family, and some particularly strong emotions running through the last quarter of the story. A sequel worth reading.

Author Alane Adams’s website has a wealth of information about her books, including book club kits and readalong videos.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

The Iliad goes graphic: Gareth Hinds interprets the epic into a graphic novel for teens

The Iliad, Adapted and Illustrated by Gareth Hinds, (March 2019, Candlewick Press), $27.99, ISBN: 9780763681135

Ages 13+

A companion to 2010’s award-winning adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey, Gareth Hinds adapts Homer’s epic and manages to capture the breathtaking scale. The Iliad is the first part of the epic poem that recounts The Trojan War, introducing readers to legendary characters including Achilles, Hector, Paris, and Odysseus. Hinds gives readers a dramatis personae of important Greeks and Trojans; he also provides illustration of the cantankerous, trouble-making Greek gods, dividing them up between Titans and children of Zeus.

Flowing the story as dialogue between an omniscient narrator (Homer) and the characters is a big help to readers who may be cowed by the epic poem in its original form; Gareth Hinds brings life to the characters and creates landscapes and battle scenes that really engage readers. The drama is more intimate when one feels like a bystander as Hector and his wife, Andromache, say their goodbyes as he goes off to fight Achilles; seeing the gods interfere in the outcomes of battle will have some readers yelling at the book like we yell at our TV screens (okay, the reader in question is me). There’s just so much material to interact with here: an epic story that’s endured for millennia; maps, and notes all come together to make this a great volume to keep on hand for your students, kids, and patrons.

Gareth Hinds’s The Iliad has starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. You can find tour dates for Gareth Hinds’s Iliad tour on his website. Candlewick Press has a free, downloadable educator’s guide available.

Gareth Hinds is an award-winning graphic novelist who has some great, epic classics to his credit, including Beowulf, Macbeth, and the works of Edgar Allan Poe. ELA teachers and librarians, get copies of his work into your students’ hands!

 

Posted in Fantasy, mythology, Teen, Young Adult/New Adult

The story of Midas, continued: A Touch of Gold

A Touch of Gold, by Annie Sullivan, (Aug. 2018, Blink YA), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-310-76635-3

Recommended for readers 12+

I mentioned A Touch of Gold in my Argos review last week, as part of my Go Greek! summer reading post. I was still reading it at the time, but I’m all done and dying to talk this one up. Let’s dive in!

We all know the story of King Midas, right? Has the ability to turn anything he touched to gold, which sounds pretty great at first, but try to eat a candy bar, or have a swig of water: see where I’m going? Literally everything he touched turned to gold, which was stressful enough, but when his daughter went to him and transformed into a golden statue, that was it. He begged the god Dionysus to take away the Golden Touch, but gods have a sense of humor – which is where A Touch of Gold begins.

You see, Midas needed to bathe everything he turned to gold in a nearby river. Being a loving dad, he grabbed Kora, his daughter, first. Once he saw she was okay, nothing else mattered. Except to Dionysus, who tends to be a stickler for playing by his rules. Midas didn’t bathe the other objects in the river, so Kora’s skin became gold. Not a statue again; more of a gold sheen, and Midas was condemned to keep the other gold objects nearby, or he’d be weakened to the point of death. Kora, now a teen, has been sheltered within the palace walls for most of her life; her father’s brother, Phaeus, taking on most of the day-to-day crown duties, while Midas grows weaker, needing more time close to his gold, to retain any energy. When someone sneaks in, kills a guard, and steals the gold, Kora must undertake the quest of a lifetime: find the gold and restore her father’s health. Along with her would-be suitor, Aris, and her cousin, Hettie, Kora sets out aboard a ship captained by Aris’ sometime friend, Royce. Kora quickly finds herself up against a superstitious and fearful crew, a bloodthirsty pirate who collects skulls, and someone working from within to bring harm to Kora and her family.

A Touch of Gold moves along at a good pace, building on an established story and adding new adventure, romance, and intrigue. Narrated by Kora, readers meet a heroine who is strong but vulnerable, smart but unsure, who undertakes her own heroine’s quest to grow into herself. She feels like an outcast; she’s treated like an outcast, until she believes in herself: a relatable character with a nice growth path. Readers may or may not see the villains coming, but A Touch of Gold is a good summer read that your Percy Jackson fans who are ready to take on something more will enjoy.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, mythology, Teen, Tween Reads

Go Greek this Summer!

Ready to move on from Percy Jackson? (Just kidding, you’re never ready to move on from Percy Jackson.) I’ve got a new book for you:

Argos, by Ralph Hardy, (March 2018, Harper) $6.99, ISBN: 9780062396792
Recommended for readers 9-12

Set in the world of the Greek classic, The Odyssey, by Homer, Argos tells the story of Odysseus’s 20-year trip home after the Trojan War, through the eyes of his beloved dog, who waited for him. Argos is a strong, loyal dog who protects his master’s home and family and tells readers all about his beloved Odysseus, the awful suitors who pursue Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, night after night, and Telemachos, Odysseus’ young son, who grows to manhood throughout the story.

Narrated from Argos’ point of view, we get the full story of The Odyssey through reports Argos gleans from animals – primarily birds – who have encountered the hero and his crew on their ill-fated journey home. We also walk with Argos as he hunts those who would do his family ill – wolves and men alike. He has his own fame on the island Ithaka, too: he’s known as the Boar Slayer after being found as the sole surviving pup in his litter, gnawing on the body of a dead boar who slaughtered his family. We read along as he falls in love and experiences heartbreak, and we read his frustration and sadness as he ages and fears dying, leaving no one to protect his human family, and never laying eyes on his master again. If you’ve read The Odyssey, you know what’s coming; if you haven’t, this is an excellent entry point to the Greek classics. Argos is a noble and wonderfully fleshed-out character, given a history of his own that Homer would likely be proud of. Perfect for animal fiction fans and fans of Greek mythology and adventure books. I’m going to booktalk this one to my many, many Percy fans this week!

 

Next up will be a YA novel I’m currently reading, also set in Ancient Greece, so I’ll just give a quick summation here: Annie Sullivan’s A Touch of Gold tells the story of King Midas’ daughter, Kora. Turned into gold by her father, she remembers dying and coming back to life when the curse was broken, but the gods have an interesting sense of humor. Her skin is gold, and she has secret powers whenever she’s near gold. She lives, sheltered from society, to escape the looks and whispers of curses, and to avoid coming into contact with gold, until her father falls ill and she’s the only one who can save him. So far, I’m enjoying this novel, but I’ll report back when I’m finished with it, soon enough. It’s not due out until August, so you have time: go read Argos! It’s great for tweens and teens alike. Display and booktalk with The Illiad and The Odyssey: there are versions available for young readers. Ask kids if they think the gods are any different between these books and the Riordan universe. See what you learn!

A Touch of Gold, by Annie Sullivan, (Aug. 2018, Blink YA), $17.99, ISBN: 978-0-310-76635-3

 

Posted in Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, mythology, Tween Reads

Hermes: The next Olympian graphic novel!

Hermes (Olympians, Volume 10), by George O’Connor, (Jan. 2018, First Second), $10.99, ISBN: 9781626725256

Recommended for readers 9-12

The 10th volume of George O’Connor’s Olympians series brings out the trickster. No, not Loki; the other trickster. Hermes – the winged feet guy? – is the god of tricksters and thieves, animal husbandry, trade and merchants, sleep, contests and athletes, astronomy, language, and he happens to also be a guide for the dead. From his humble beginnings as an infant who had a penchant for cattle rustling (he’s the god of that, too) to his adventures with his son, Pan, O’Connor provides a nice overview of Hermes, framed as a series of stories told by a character who is not exactly what he seems. There are additional mythological figure biographies, a bibliography, footnotes, and discussion questions. The Olympians collection is a good graphic novel go-to series for kids’ collections; they’re a good additional resource for research reports, and kids enjoy reading about the Olympians. I display my set with my Percy Jackson books, and it generates a lot of interest, especially when you booktalk the series as the basis for Percy Jackson. (Nothing about Mount Olympus being at the top of the Empire State Building in O’Connor, but who knows, right?)

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, History, Intermediate, Middle Grade, mythology, Non-Fiction, Teen, Tween Reads, Young Adult/New Adult

Illustrated/Graphic Novel Rundown

Phew! I may have overextended myself just an eensy bit with  my own summer reading list, but it was all worth it. There are some great books out this Fall. Here’s a quick rundown of some graphic novels and illustrated nonfiction out this month (and one from June… it was a busy summer!).

    

Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy, by Steven & Ben Nadler, (June 2017, Princeton University Press), $22.95, ISBN: 9780691168692 / Ages 16+

This nonfiction graphic novel tells the story of the 17th-century thinkers – Galileo, Descartes, Locke, Newton, and more – who fundamentally changed the way mankind saw society and ourselves. These philosophers and scientists challenged the church’s authority to prove that Earth was not the center of the universe; that kings were not divinely chosen to rule; that neither God nor nature makes choices: sometimes, things just happen. Period. The reader-friendly, cartoony drawings, combined with simple explanatory text helps readers understand the scandalous nature of these thinkers. Booktalk and display with the Action Philosophers collection.

 

    

Greek Myths: Three Heroic Tales, by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden/Illustrated by Carole Henaff, (Sept. 2017, Confident Readers), $12.99, ISBN: 9781782853497 / Ages 8-12

Three of the most famous Greek myths: Demeter and Persephone, Theseus and the Minotaur, and Orpheus and Eurydice – get the illustrated treatment here. Award-winning French illustrator Carole Hénaff uses a palette of deep and bright colors to create beautiful illustrations that would be as beautiful in a frame as they are in this book.

Water Memory, by Mathieu Reynes/Illustrated by Valerie Vernay, (Sept. 2017, Lion Forge), $14.99, ISBN: 9781941302439 / Ages 13+

I love a good, spooky story, and if it’s a good, spooky graphic novel that I can share with my library kiddos, even better. Marion’s mom inherited an old family house. It’s got a private beach and overlooks the ocean. It’s too good to be true, right? Right. Marion discovers some strange rock carvings and that a chilling local legend may be coming to life. The artwork is beautiful, and the translation from the original French to English is seamless.

    
Little Pierrot Vol 1: Get the Moon, by Alberto Varanda, (Sept. 2017, Lion Forge), $14.99, ISBN: 9781941302590 Ages / 4-8
This is the first in a new graphic novel series, translated from French, and perfect for young readers. Little Pierrot is a little boy with a big imagination. He and his snail buddy – Mr. Snail, naturally – have surreal adventures and end their day together, like best buddies do. Give this to your TOON Books readers; it’s got a similar look and feel. The artwork is sweet and whimsical, and kids will identify with Pierrot in terms of imagination and having a best buddy at one’s side, whether it’s a snail, a dog, or a stuffed plush. Booktalk with Calvin and Hobbes and Garfield, who never likes to be without his teddy bear, Pooky.
Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, mythology, Tween Reads

The story of Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt

artemis_1Artemis, by George O’Connor, (Olympians #9), (Jan. 2017, First Second), $9.99, ISBN: 9781626725225

Recommended for ages 8-12

The latest in George O’Connor’s graphic novel series on the Olympians gives readers the origin of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, nature, archery, wild animals, young women, and sudden death (yes, you read that right). Like a lot of gods and goddesses, Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo, were born when Zeus introduced himself to Leto, daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. Artemis assisted with her brother’s birth, despite being only 9 days old, and when the family was invited to live on Mount Olympus, was protective of her mother, who, for obvious reasons, wasn’t really in Hera’s favor.

 

I love this series because it really utilizes the graphic novel format to bring these myths back to life. When I was a kid, I had history and mythological comics that breathed life into their stories, splashing the pages with the color and action that infused them. O’Connor’s Olympians series is good, solid story-telling that brings mythology back to kids and adults alike. Put these books out with your Rick Riordan books; your Greek mythology nonfiction books (D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths is brilliant and often used in schools), and, for readers who are ready for them, Gillian Cross and Neil Packer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

artemis_2

 

 

 

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Toddler, Toddler Reads

Mini-Myths – A board book series that brings the myths to your toddlers!

play nice herculesMini Myths: Play Nice, Hercules! (2015, Abrams), by Joan Holub/Illus. by Leslie Patricelli, $6.99, ISBN: 1-4197-0954-2

Recommended for ages 0-3

This series works for me on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin. This new board book series, written by Joan Holub – whose Goddess Girls chapter book series is a huge hit with the girls at my library – and illustrated by one of my favorites, Leslie Patricelli (Tubby, Yummy Yucky, and Toot, and other fabulous baby board books), is the perfect way to introduce the wonder of Greek myths to your toddler.

Hercules is a strong little boy. He doesn’t want to be nice – he wants to wham-bam monsters! To whomp-stomp bad guys! But when he ka-booms his baby sister’s castle, he learns that being strong also means using strength to help people, too.

This book is wonderfully subtle. Toddlers aren’t going to sit down and have a discourse on Greek mythological heroes, but they can get the big older brother acting like a strong man – or even a bully.  Parents will love the hints Ms. Patricelli includes in the story – Hercules wham-bams a Cyclopean monster, and stomps on Greek soldiers. The blocks of the castle depict the twelve labors of Hercules. A note from Ms. Holub at the end of the story gives more detail on the myth of Hercules, allowing even older siblings to join in the fun and learn about the story of the mythological strong man.

I adore this book. I bought it for my library, and I’m buying a copy for my own little guy. Abrams has a series of Mini Myths ready to hit shelves; Be Patient, Pandora is out right now, and books on Medusa and Midas are coming. Get this series – it’s BRILLIANT.

hercules_2

Posted in Humor, mythology, Tween Reads

Take a tour of the Underworld with Hades in Hades Speaks

hades speaksHades Speaks! by Vicky Alvear Schecter/illus. by J.E. Larson, (Boyds Mill Press, Sept. 2014). $16.95, ISBN: 9781620915981

Recommended for ages 10-14

Greek mythology fans, Myth-O-Mania and Percy Jackson fans, this one is for your collection. Take a walk through the Underworld, with the man himself, Hades, as your guide. Learn all about the Fields of Elysim, the Hall of Judgement, and a lot of ancient Greek history, with some very tongue-in-cheek commentary (Romans – you may be a little put out).

Hades is the rock star of the Greek myths. He’s Poseidon and Zeus’ big brother, but he’s managed to find himself the black sheep – is it because of the dead thing? The final judgment thing? Whatever it is, Zeus isn’t thrilled, and he lets readers know all about it.

The book is written in a style that tweens will appreciate – written from Hades’ point of view, the god of the Underworld is full of snark as he takes the reader on a guided tour of his realm, and loaded with information that he imparts while always making sure the reader knows that he or she isn’t safe there. Not just about the Underworld, Hades gives details about “his people” – the Ancient Greeks – including the Greeks’ funeral rites, differences between Roman and Greek myths, various curses throughout ancient Greece, and famous ancient Greeks (who dwell in various areas of the realm), including Plato, and Aristotle, the guy responsible for homework.

The art, running throughout the book, is gorgeous, rendered in stark black and white with sharp angles (lest you find yourself relaxing!). There’s a map to guide you on your journey, complete with locations of the Titan’s Pit in Tartaros, Charon’s boat on the River Styx, and Persephone’s Grove. There are chapter heads and full-page illustrations of Hades, his black cape menacing and yet, drawing your eye to him. It adds a great vibe to the book: think Edward Gorey meets Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

The book rounds out with a glossary, a bibliography, and an index. This is a solid addition to any library – personal, school, or public – with a population that’s interested in Greek myths. And fans of Rick Riordan’s Red Pyramid series, rejoice – Anubis, Egyptian God of the Dead, is writing a book next.