Oft-told tales retold with uncommon verve and outfitted with resplendent Art Deco–style portraits.
Napoli opens with the rise of the "mother force" Gaia to bring order to the whirling elements of Chaos and closes with the devastation of the Trojan War ("the doing of gods with too much time on their hands"). In between, she introduces over two dozen immortals and heroes—including Hestia, Helios and Selene among the better-known Olympians and their mortal offspring. While somehow managing to keep all the sex inexplicit (Aphrodite is born, for instance, from the "foam" produced by an unspecified body part ripped from her father Uranus), she lays out clear family lines. She pays close attention to her narrative's tone and sound, capturing the nature of each god or mortal with vivid turns of phrase: Peaceable Hestia considers Zeus a "frightful maniac," Orion grows up to become "an insufferably pompous nitwit" and Selene is left to pine, "silver sweet, and soft, and sad," for her eternally sleeping lover, Endymion. Applying rippling strokes of intense color, Balit opens with a shimmering family tree of Olympians, heads each chapter with a stylized full-body image of a mythological figure with associated emblems and symbols and also contributes interior illustrations and thumbnail portraits for the closing summary cast list.
Superb versions for reading alone or for sharing with audiences large or small. (source note, lists of recommended print and Web resources) (Mythology. 10-14)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Napoli brings new life to the familiar stories of Greek mythology in this intimate compilation, telling each tale with grace, clarity, and emotion. When Demeter mourns her missing daughter, "Her cheeks grew hollow, her body gaunt. Greens turned brown.... Hunger twisted the innards of every living creature." Through the brief but vivid retellings, readers will better understand such figures as Apollo, Ares, Dionysus, and Helen, while sidebars contextualize the stories. Balit's majestic and sinuous spreads mimic the drama and passion of the legends. Ages 8-12. (Oct.)[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
Gr 5-9--Wise, witty, and thoroughly entrancing, this august collection is ideal for those who want more from their mythology. Beginning with the beginning ("Gaia: Mother Earth" and "Uranus: Father Heaven"), Napoli presents 25 tales introducing the major players of the Greek pantheon along with an assortment of celebrated heroes and mortals (including Perseus, Heracles, Jason, and Helen). At once eloquent and elemental, these lyrically written portraits deftly detail each character's origins, realm of power, and legendary story lines. Filled with sensual imagery, the language is poetic, yet balanced by amusing asides and wry observations that add a contemporary, almost conversational accessibility. The accounts gloriously regale the familiar adventures of these deities and champions, while imbuing them with personality. For example, Hades, "spitting mad" at being confined in Cronus's belly, bursts out ready and willing to take on the Titans: "roaring into war beside his siblings felt natural--like butter on a burn--it felt fat and rich and right." Again and again, Napoli encourages readers to trawl these tales for greater truths: Theseus is portrayed not only as a monster-slaying hero, but also as a man who gradually gains the wisdom needed to become a just ruler. Stunning stylized paintings featuring luminous colors, rich patterns, and star-infused motifs add depth and drama to the text. Full-spread images introduce the characters, incorporating their iconic symbols and details of their dominions, while smaller insets provide glimpses of the action. Interesting sidebars appear throughout, providing historical, scientific, and cultural information. A must-have for most collections.--Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal[Page 130]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.