Sunday, February 26, 2012

Obsessed with Greek Myths after Percy Jackson?

Well, if your kids are anything like mine, after reading the Percy Jackson series they suddenly became obsessed with Greek myths.  Being that I am named after a Norse goddess, I would have preferred the Norwegians, but I am not a mom to quibble!  I loved that they got a chance to delve into these stories, which are the foundation for so much in literature as well as art.  It is a tremendous knowledge base that children should posses!

This week I have looked at books that continue to reference the Greek myths, as well as some that bring in other cultural myth references.  I have also thrown in a little nod to the Norwegians, but can you blame me?

Don't forget to "like" one great book on Facebook.

Title:          The Pig Scrolls
Author:     Paul Shipton
Target:      Grades 5-8
Series:       Yes, but there are only two books.
What this book is about:
Gryllus, a former crewman  with Odysseus gets turned into a pig during the Odyssey.  As he is living a quiet life in Greece, rooting for food, he is captured by a prophetess on a mission for Apollo to save the world!  However, this pig has a unique, albeit it, sarcastic view of the world and the role he will play.
Why I love this book:
‘There once was a merry young Spartan
But trouble he always was startin’
The friends that he had
Said the smell was so bad
Because he just couldn’t stop ---” 
If you enjoy a good smelly limerick, a smart aleck talking pig and Greek mythology then this is certainly the book for you!
This book won the Bronze Nestle Children’s Book Prize in the UK.  Frankly, I am surprised that more of these books have not caught on the in the US.  There are some real gems on the list and since they are voted on by school children, they represent some innovative books that are also interesting to kids.  
Who this book is for:
Kids who love adventure, humor and Greek mythology!

Final thoughts:
A book written by a sarcastic pig, really, how can you pass that up!

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: The Pig Scrolls

Title:          D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
Authors:   Ingri and Edgar D’aulaire
Target:      Grade 3 and up
Series:        No
What this book is about:
This book tells the story of all the Greek gods, how they came into being, their adventures and the root of their personalities.  It does so with beautiful illustrations and with wit and detail.
Why I love this book:
I truly believe that this book is essential to any children’s library.  These myths are the basis for great art and literature, and all children should not only know them, but also fall in love with these stories.  I remember having this book and the one on Norse myths as a child, and memorizing the stories of Zeus and Athena, Hera and Helios.  There are many books on Greek myths out there, but at the end of the day, this one has been around 40 years for a reason.  My oldest son poured over these stories with the same enthusiasm I had.
Who this book is for:
Well any child interested in Greek myths will get caught up in this book.  It is wonderful to read alone, but the stories are also quite engaging read aloud as well.  The text is large and the pictures are plentiful, which just adds to the experience.
Final thoughts:
An absolute must have for teaching the foundation of Greek mythology!

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths

Title:          The Alchemyst
Author:     Michael Scott
Target:      Grades 5-8
Series:        Yes
What this story is about:
Fifteen year old twins, Josh and Sophie, are pulled from a normal life, into a battle for the Codex (a book of magical wisdom.)  Their presence however, was predicted by the book, and they hold the potential to be powerful magicians.  This book brings in the fight between ancient magic ( the Egyptian cat goddess, Bastet, three faced Hekate from Greek mythology and Morrigan the Scottish crow-goddess, to name a few) and those who favor the humani and don’t want to see their destruction, one being our Alchemyst, Nicholas Flamel.  Throw in mud people, attacking crows, SUV chases and battles to save the tree of life, and that is just the first 100 pages!
Why I love this book:
This is a great adventure and a fun read.  The author doesn’t focus simply on one line of mythology, but tries to incorporate how the essence of what we believe is manifested in different mythologies with the same common roots.  I was caught up in the story immediately and the action never stopped.  The first book doesn’t resolve the story, but sets us up immediately for the second.
Who this book is for:
Those who loved Percy Jackson will find many similarities in this story.  The tie in with the elder gods (in the case of Percy Jackson the Titans) and the idea that mythological creatures are living among us undetected.  Also the action is non stop.
Final thoughts:
The only characters that were created for this story are the twins.  The fact that you can look up any of the other characters and learn about their place in history is fascinating!

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

Title:          Odd and the Frost Giants

Author:     Neil Gaiman
Target:      Grades 3-6
Series:        No
What this book is about:
In an ancient village in Norway, a boy named Odd runs away from home.  Out in the forest, he encounters a bear, a fox and an eagle, whom he helps return to Asgard, city of the Gods.  He must also outwit the Frost Giant, who has invaded Asgard.
Why I love this book:
Well first, I had to throw in a Norse tale because I am stubborn.  Secondly, I love Neil Gaiman’s Newbery award winning book The Graveyard Book, so I enjoyed reading his latest offering.  Finally it is a lovely little story about a  tender hearted boy who shows his strength and gets to interact with Norse gods, who I think are far more interesting than those Greeks!  
This book is more of a novelette of 117 pages, which was written for World Book Day in the UK.  In fact, this is my only gripe, that the story is never fully developed and is more meant to wet your appetite than be a comprehensive novel.  Gaiman has said he would like to further explore the story of Odd, so perhaps a longer book is in the works!
Who this book is for:
Kids who enjoy mythology and any good Norwegians!
Final thoughts:
Who can pass up a book where the goddess Freya plays a pivotal concluding role!  Really!

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: Odd and the Frost Giants

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