Finished: Dec. 16, 2010
First Published: 2006 (Softcover chapter book ed. Aug. 1, 2010)
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Genre: children, Greek myths, mythology
One bright morning Prince Paris was out hunting.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Barefoot Books.
Reason for Reading: I love Greek mythology and never pass up reading a new retelling of Odysseus.
Another beautiful book from Barefeet Books! This is a mate to Arthur of Albion and a part of their series of chapter books, which contains the two books so far. Heavy card covers with flaps, quality paper and delightfully illustrated as the previous picture book edition has been reduced to a trade paperback size. The gorgeous illustrations by Christina Balit are plentiful and are used for both decorative and illustrative purposes. The colours are heavily Mediterranean with greeny blues and blueish greens mixed with sand colours that darken to browns. Blait's style has an abstract, unrealistic look which matches the legendary epic tale she is painting.
The retelling itself is not the best I've read as it lacks a certain emotion. The authors have gone for an authentic retelling including all aspects of the tale, including a Prologue which recaps the whole Trojan War and puts Odysseus in place for his journey home for the reader. The problem comes from the briefness of the multitude of events. Each one is told thoroughly and rapidly as we sail quickly chapter through chapter with Odysseus. This, unfortunately, leaves little room for the reader to connect with Odysseus and enjoy him as a person. I felt as if I was being told a story about Odysseus rather than going on the journey along with him and getting to know and care for him. This is not unique to this book and can be a common occurrence in children's retellings, as action is chosen over character development when only a certain number of pages can be used.
Now, this doesn't mean the story isn't enjoyable or worth reading; it's the adventures of Odysseus after all! As mentioned all the various aspects of the story have been included. The authors have kept the violence of the original in place and while not inappropriately graphic at all it certainly is not for the squeamish as the cyclopes bashes a man's brains against a wall then pops him in his mouth, for example. However, on the other hand, the sensuous nature of the original has been left out all together and is perfectly clean for all ages.
An enjoyable read, a good introduction to the story, with lovely illustrations and as usual for Barefoot Books, a quality produced book.