Reviews for Gifts from the Gods : Ancient Words & Wisdom from Greek & Roman Mythology


Booklist Reviews 2011 November #1
Lunge-Larsen introduces readers to 17 words and phrases whose origins can be traced to classical mythology. Using appropriate character names (depending on the Greek or Latin origins of words), she provides definitions, short excerpts from a children's text that includes the term, longer retellings of the relevant myths, and follow-up discussions that incorporate related expressions. A few terms (Achilles' heel, Pandora's box) have clear connections to mythology, but most (echo, fate, fortune, janitor, panic, tantalize) are less obvious. Hinds' computer-enhanced pencil-and-watercolor illustrations appear on every page, depicting key moments from the tales and adding subtle details to the text: Leonardo da Vinci is shown painting the Mona Lisa in the section "Genius," while Homer recites the opening lines from the Odyssey in "Muse." Appended with author and illustrator notes, a bibliography, and a chart of the immortals (including Greek and Roman names and spheres of influence), this makes a good resource for mythology units, history classes, or English or Latin teachers hoping to perk up vocabulary lessons. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
From Achilles' heel to victory, Lunge-Larsen explores how words have been derived from myths. Each entry begins with a definition plus a quote that incorporates it. Next comes the relevant myth, along with graphic novel style art, its pencil and watercolor renditions enlivening the straightforward text with eloquent gestures and expressions. The classic tales and lively pictures make an effective lure to etymology's dramatic possibilities. Bib., ind.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #1
From Achilles' heel to victory, Lunge-Larsen explores how words have been derived from myths. Each several-page, alphabetically ordered entry begins with a definition of a modern English word plus a quote that incorporates it, from R. L. Stevenson and H. C. Andersen to James Marshall, Beverly Cleary, and Lemony Snicket ("The children were alone with their nemesis, a word which here means, ‘The worst enemy you could imagine'"). Next comes the relevant myth, along with graphic novel-style art, its pencil and watercolor renditions enlivening the straightforward text with eloquent gestures and expressions. Each section includes comments on related words (e.g., from the Graces -- gratia in Latin -- come gracious and grateful, while the names of the Fates have generated such diverse descendants as stamina and mortal). The classic tales and lively art make an effective lure to etymology's more dramatic possibilities; how it all works is made clearer in an author's note followed up with a chart of "correspondences" (Greek and Latin names plus their definitions) and an index to all the names and words (well over one hundred) that are referenced. A lengthy bibliography interfiles standard works for adults (Bulfinch) and young people (D'Aulaires). joanna rudge long

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #2

Countering the notion that our language just sprang into existence from nowhere, a respected storyteller offers quick notes on the Classical backgrounds behind several dozen words or expressions in common use.

Arranging her 17 main choices alphabetically from "Achilles Heel" to "Victory," Lunge-Larsen supplies for each a use-quote, retells or paraphrases a Greek or Roman myth that explains the term's usage then closes with quick references to several related gods or other figures whose names are still embedded in English. While "Pandora's Box" and some other entries feature fully developed tales, others do not. The story of Achilles (whose role and death in the Trojan War are encompassed in one sentence about how, after the "Battle of Troy [sic] broke out ... one fateful arrow pierced his heel") and others are sketchy at best. Adding occasional dialogue balloons graphic-novelist, Hinds presents expertly drawn but similarly sketchy watercolor scenes of fully-clothed or discreetly posed mortals and immortals on nearly every page. While pulling modern use-quotes from current literature for kids has the potential to spice up the presentation, some works are relatively obscure (River Boy, by Tim Bowler) or above the natural audience for this text (The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney).

A quick skim of the subject—readable, but unsystematic and not well served by either the art or the dusty closing bibliography. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 August #4

Lunge-Larsen and Hinds explain what words like echo, grace, hypnotize, and janitor have in common, tracing the origins of common words and expressions to Greek and Roman myths. Readers may know that "arachnid" derives from the story of Arachne and that modern-day "sirens" have mythical antecedents, but this collection has plenty of surprises, too, such as the roots of "nemesis" (the goddess of justice) or "tantalize," after doomed Tantalus. Lunge-Larsen provides additional context, including dictionary definitions, and quotes from children's literature. Hinds incorporates graphic novel-style elements into his dynamic illustrations, including dialogue balloons and filmic perspectives. A treat for myth lovers and language lovers alike, this smart and well-executed compilation should provide readers with a deeper understanding of the ways in which language evolves and of the surprising symbolism behind certain words. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 October

Gr 3-7--Mythology meets etymology in this handsome collection that introduces words derived from the gods, goddesses, and humans featured in Greek and Roman tales. From "Achilles' Heel" to "Victory," 17 terms are presented along with the stories of the characters that inspired their origins. Each section begins with a page containing a definition and a quote from a well-known children's book that makes lively use of the featured word, all attractively bordered by a thematic frieze (round eyeballs for "Hypnotize" or emblems of the arts for "Muse"). Clearly and vividly written, the subsequent tales range in length from quick summations (a two-page entry for "Genius") to more detailed recaps of myths (Arachne and Athena's weave-off for "Arachnid"). Entries end with additional notes about the highlighted word and its uses and variations. Hinds's pencil-and-watercolor illustrations have a classical feel, showing statuesque characters girded in golden armor or draped in graceful clothing, frightening beasts (the Furies, set against a crimson background, are particularly haunting with their dripping-with-blood eyes and batlike wings), and an array of human emotions. A thoughtful author's note and a chart listing the Greek and Latin names for the characters are appended. The colorful artwork and brief chapters make this volume ideal for classroom sharing. Use this unique offering to launch a discussion about the elemental power of story and its influence on modern-day language.--Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

[Page 159]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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VOYA Reviews 2011 December
The complexity of language, from what we say and what we mean when we say it, hearkens back to the stories of the past. Lunge-Larsen shows clearly how this happens as she outlines how the origin and meaning of thirteen different words are strongly based in Greek and Roman mythology. Beginning with the word, its definition, and a quote from a modern children's book, she then very clearly describes the mythology behind the word. This book is very simple but packs a lot of punch, with to-the-point information that draws from history, mythology, and linguistics. Sure to attract language arts teachers who want students to master word origins, this work will also hold strong appeal for teens who will be attracted by the combination of clever text and exceptional illustrations. Hinds has honed his craft though the creation of many outstanding graphic novels, and this volume's layout pays homage to that form with the use of speech bubbles and illustrations of various sizes. Because of this, the work reads more like a comic than an informational text, a feature that will draw teens in and keep them in so they will forget they are actually learning something A prime selection for both school and public libraries, this book will be suitable for classroom use as well as personal reading. From the familiar to the unusual, readers will be able to see these myths and the language they created in an interesting new light.--Rachel Wadham 4Q 3P M J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

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