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Book Review of Greek Myths by Jean Menzies – MEDITERRANEAN
3rd October 2020
Greek Myths by Jean Menzies, children’s book, illustrated by Katie Ponder.
Greek Myths is shortlisted for the Books Are My Bag Reader Awards (Breakthrough Author).
Ancient Greece and Greek Mythology remains one of the most popular topics among classrooms, libraries and living rooms, a quick book search for ‘Greek Myths for Kids’ brings up a wealth of shining recommendations – old favourites and new wonders – covering every story and angle imaginable. It’s hard to imagine that there’s any originality on the subject left. Yet, Jean Menzies’s collection, Greek Myths, arrives on my doorstep with an enchanting gold foil cover and pages upon pages of tales and portraits and information that promises excitement, curiosity and humour. A glistening star in a sky full of twinkles.
From the very first page of Greek Myths, Menzies takes us back in time to the beautiful Mediterranean and introduces us to a flurry of great gods and goddesses, heroic mortals and terrifying monsters. From the fall of Ouranos, to the war of the Titans, to the birth of Athena, Menzies uncovers the classic, the epic and even the outrageous across well known favourites, as well as some stories you might not have heard before. And still we dive deeper. With additional spreads on Greek myths today, ‘Greek Storytelling’ and ‘Worshipping the Gods’, Greek Myths guarantees an impressive and immersive experience.
What struck me the most with Greek Myths though was Menzies’s fairytale-esque retellings. With specialities in Greek Literature, Athenian Law, Greek Mythology, Menzies doesn’t overwhelm her reader with context and knowledge. Instead, her approach, which is both charming and engaging, captures the joy and importance of storytelling, gently reinforcing the notion that these great adventures and tragic disasters have been passed down and enjoyed by many generations. Coupled with digestible chunks of background information and a useful pronunciation guide, Greek Myths is a perfect introduction into the lively world of Greek mythology.
It is without doubt that this stunning, stylised book is a true labour of love for both Menzies and illustrator Katie Ponder.
Ponder’s illustrations are a spectacular visual feast! Beautifully contemporary, Ponder has masterfully re-imagined the myths with a fresh, stylish twist for today’s reader, and effortlessly breathed a new life into this mythical world. Utilising every inch of the page, the bold, striking colour palette, fused with the dazzling profiles of the gods is just utterly hypnotising.
A book to pore over or simply dip in and out of, Greek Myths will be treasured and loved by many for sure.
For more beautiful Greek Myth collections for kids check out Stephen Kershaw and Victoria Topping’s Mythologica, and Thiago de Moraes’s Myth Atlas.
Fern Tolley, The TripFiction Kid’s Lit Writer in Residence
To mark BOOKSHOP DAY in the UK, keep an eye out for our Greek Myths and Books Are My Bag Limited Edition Charlie Mackesy tote bag giveaway coming later today!
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