Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Greek Myth in Children's Fiction Part 10

I've rarely seen a book raise so much laughter in the young
as my final choice for Greek Myth in Children's Fiction: The Pig Scrolls, by Paul Shipton. Gryllus was a member of Odysseus' crew, transformed into a pig by the witch Circe. (The name is taken from a little jeu d'esprit of Plutarch's, in which Odysseus and Circe talk with a pig.) He must now save the world, thanks to a somewhat surprising prophecy.

All the familiar names are there, and the book is a rollicking and deliciously irreverent romp. 

Greek myth, as we have seen, manifests itself in children's fiction in many ways: from the stately to the silly. I'm sure that these heroes, heroines, gods and beasts will populate our imaginations for many centuries to come, and I look forward to the many new and exciting interpretations that are bound to follow. 

Gryllus brings my series to an end. Watch out for my own reimagining of Greek myth: The Double Axe, in which the story of Theseus and the minotaur gets a surprising twist.


Monday, 27 June 2016

Blog review of THE KING'S REVENGE

Here's a lovely blog review on Fly Girl's Cabinet of Curiosities, of THE KING'S REVENGE.

Greek Myth in Children's Fiction: Part 9

Time and time again, when I meet older children, they tell me that their favourite book when they were little was Lucy Coats' Atticus the Storyteller. Covering a huge range of Greek myth, from the beginnings of the cosmos right up until Odysseus returns home to Penelope, the book cleverly uses the idea of a storytelling competition at Troy to link the stories together. Lively, and beautifully written, it should be anyone's starting point when thinking about Greek myth for the young. 

Lucy Coats has also recently produced a series, "Beasts of Olympus", about a young demi-god, Pandemonium, who is transported up to Olympus to look after the animals - the books are both funny and exciting, and twist the myths on their heads as Hercules, who's always trying to kill them, becomes the villain.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Greek Myth in Children's Fiction: Part 8

The plasticity and power of myth is taken to imaginative and brilliant levels in Alan Gibbons' Shadow of the Minotaur, in which a young boy starts playing a computer game. He takes on the characters first of Theseus battling the minotaur, and then Perseus fighting the Gorgon. The only problem is - he's not in a computer game, but in a different layer of reality. Gripping and clever. (And also I have a fondness for the minotaur, as the myth provided the basis for my own The Double Axe.)

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Greek Myth in Children's Fiction: Part 7

From the mother and daughter team that brought you Lionboy comes Halo, an enormously involving story in which a young girl is castaway on an island full of centaurs. She must dress as a boy to survive, and ends up in the centre of Athenian politics. It's a wonderfully original take on ancient myth, and Halo is a lively and intelligent heroine battling to find out about herself within the context of greater turmoil.

(The cover, by the way, shouldn't have been in Greek letters - the title reads EDLTH. Confusing for a book that has the Greek alphabet in the back.)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Greek Myth in Children's Fiction: Part 6

Rosemary Sutcliff is perhaps best known for her novels set in Roman times. She did, however cover a wide range of other subjects - coming, towards the end of her life, to the Greek myths. She did write a version of The Iliad, called Black Ships before Troy; but I'm going to mention her version of the Odyssey, The Wanderings of Odysseus. Dramatic and beautifully written, and full of lovely phrases: ("The Greeks were woolly-witted with so much eating and drinking"), it makes a fine introduction to the travails of myth's cleverest hero.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Greek Myth in Children's Fiction: Part 5

One of the other great dynasties of Greek myth is that of Oedipus and his family at Thebes. Sophocles' play Antigone is part of this cycle, and Ali Smith, in her version The Story of Antigone (written for Pushkin Press as part of their "Save the Story" cycle) is imaginative and wise. A crow forms the framing device, and all the great themes of love, honour and duty are dealt with sensitively and sympathetically, and also faithfully. A must for anyone building a library of classics for the young.