Ages: 5+ (there is no age limit on this)
Finished: Mar. 20, 2011
First Published: 1991 (reprint Feb 8. 2011)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Genre: children, picture book, graphic novel, mythology
In the beginning, the gods lived on Mount Olympus.
Acquired: Received a review copy from Candlewick Press.
Reason for Reading: All my readers should know by now that mythology is a favourite subject of mine, especially Greek. Plus I had also read Williams' first Shakespeare book ages ago when it first came out so knew what to expect.
An absolutely beautiful oversized book, graphically designed to be aesthetically pleasing. The author/illustrator often takes a week per single page to design the gorgeous artwork. Each page is rimmed in a thematic border pertinent to that part of the story. The book includes 8 common Greek myths (though one was new to me, or at least far back in my memory banks) and sets them up in comic strip fashion rather than more common comic book/graphic novel format. Each page flows in lines of the comic strip with a written narrative underneath each strip and within the frames bubbles are used to emphasize the story and generally add silly humour to the character's reactions to what is going on around them.
While the stories are brief, they tend to stick to the major details of the original myths, the basic plot lines are there and the important themes are kept in play. The violence is there though only shown with a drip of blood here and there and obviously dead bodies; this may be an issue with some parents. I found it all in good taste at this level as long as your goal is not to hide death and violence. The story that may have been new to me as I didn't really recall it was "Arion and the Dolphin". The others are very popular: Pandora, Orpheus/Eurydice, Heracles 12 Tasks, Daedalus/Icarus, Medusa, the Minotaur and finally the story of Arachne.
A great read, thoroughly hilarious, but keeps the original themes of the myths themselves. Wonderful art and a great way to introduce children to the myths, exciting reading for older reluctant readers and a fun way for adult classicists to see the tales told in a new light.