Marcia Williams
Greek Myths for Young Children

My soon-to-be five year old began a new preschool which was supposed to be non-denominational and non-religious. However, it was hosted by the Presbyterians. Like any good Presbyterians, they decided to share a bit about their beliefs with the kids--especially at Christmas time. So my curious son came home with questions. My wife explained to him that various groups of people over the years have created stories to try and explain things that happen in life. Some of those stories even include a god or several gods. Well, that's not all he wanted to hear. He wanted to hear all these stories and find out about the mixture of characters and gods involved. Even though he already has a book of Bible stories, he wanted more. This book was the next, but likely not the last, step.

And he loves it. It's one of those books for kids that doesn't get old for the kids (or for the adult who may be doing the reading). We have read at least one story out of it every day for a couple of weeks and it remains the first choice for both of us--even though we have some fresh, unread library books sitting on the shelf. I highly recommend Greek Myths for Young Children for kids from about the age of four on up (although my soon-to-be three year old daughter seems to like it too) for fun, entertainment, and the lessons that can be learned from the assortment of stories. The descriptions below tell more about the basic format and stories covered (Patricia Dooley's comments are not entirely correct; a god or two does make an appearance from time to time in some of the stories).

from the publisher:
Williams uses a comic strip format in her retellings of eight Greek myths: Pandora's Box, Arion and the Dolphins, Orpheus and Euridice, the Twelve Tasks of Hercules, Daedalus and Icarus, Perseus and the Gorgon's Head, Theseusand the Minotaur, and Arachne {and Athena}.

Greek myths are among the most exciting stories ever told. In this collection, Williams retells eight myths using simple language and a unique comic-strip format. Panels and spreads brimming with color and nonstop action make each tale a pleasure to look at and voice balloons add modern humor. The perfect way to introduce young readers to the power of myths.

Gr 1-6 -- There's a challenge here for everyone who is sure that another collection of Greek myths will never circulate: put a plain brown wrapper on this oversize book and watch kids fight for what look like comic strips. The eight tales all feature humans, not gods (Pandora, Arion, Orpheus, Heracles, Daedalus, Perseus, Theseus and Arachne), but the funny-looking figures are hardly heroic. Williams's approach is to be faithful in fact and setting, but modern in humor and attitude. The retellings are quite accurate, even down to obscure (and sometimes gruesome) details, but above all they are witty and fast-paced. Plot is compressed into concise captions, but dialogue balloons hold irreverent asides from the cast. The cartoon format is brilliantly colorful, with bright, folk-patterned, decorative borders. It's a triumph of layout: only in the labors of Heracles does the panel design seem congested. Even reluctant readers (let alone closet classicists) will be drawn to pore over these entrancing pages. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle

For a contemporary presentation of the myths, Williams in Greek Myths for Young Children has provided modern humor through her comic-strip format. As in her more recent Sinbad, there are several levels of stories in this oversized book. There is the text under the pictures, the pictures, and the dialogue in voice balloons within the pictures. The story text is sparse in comparison to the art, but the book can serve as an excellent introduction to these ancient stories for young readers. --Judy Katsh - Children's Literature