Book Review: The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus

Rating: ★★★☆☆

This is a nice little introduction to the Greek pantheon of gods.  This book is very engaging for young children, with well-written text and appealing illustrations laying out the basic events of these stories in a way that is understandable to an elementary audience.  Readers are invited to enter into the story world in the author’s afterword:

“The next time you hear a clap of thunder, or feel the wind, or see golden wheat swaying in the fields, or hear exquisite music, what will you think?  Is that Zeus shaking his thunderbolt, or Hermes flying past?  Is it Demeter playing with her Persephone?  Is that Apollo’s song filling our ears?  They are still with us.”

Parents may want to use caution in introducing religious-mythological stories before children are strongly rooted in their own faith.  This particular book is presented in a way might encourage the immature reader to interpret the stories as being literally true, and this may cause confusion about the differences between this mythology and the claims of their own faith.  Additionally, many of the Greek myths involve violent and abusive behavior, bitter feuds, and sexual immorality or abuse, which may merit adult discussion.

If a child outgrows the reading level of Aliki’s book before they are ready to engage its content, they might do better with Rosemary Sutcliff’s stories, which include a more full-orbed presentation of the great Greek stories, directed toward a more mature audience.  Alan Lee has masterfully illustrated two of these, Black Ships Before Troy and The Wanderings of Odysseus, making them quite appealing to older-elementary and middle-school readers.  (Black Ships Before Troy, however, does contain one example of mild nudity.)  For more detailed reviews of Sutcliff’s books, please see The Children’s Hour.

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Publication Information: Aliki. Gods and Goddesses of Olympus, The. HarperCollins. 1994. ISBN: 0064461890.
Categories: 3 Stars, Age 04-08
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Posted on November 21, 2010

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