Apollo by George O’Connor

Apollo: The Brilliant One by George O’Connor. January 26, 2016. First Second, 80p. ISBN: 9781626720152.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 4.0; Lexile: 800.

From high atop Olympus, the nine Muses, or Mousai, recount the story of the powerful and quick-tempered Apollo, the Brilliant One. Born of a she-wolf and Zeus, King of Gods, Apollo is destined fro the greatest of victories and most devastating of failures as his temper, privilege, and pride take him into battle with a serpent, in pursuit of a beautiful but unattainable nymph, and into deadly competition with his beloved. Watch closely as Apollo navigates the tumultuous world in which he lives. Will he rise above the rest and fulfill his destiny as the son of Zeus, or will he falter, consumed by his flaws, and destroy all that he touches?

Part of Series: The Olympians


Author Interview


Booklist (February 1, 2016 (Online))
Grades 6-9. It’s fitting that the entry in O’Connor’s popular Olympians series focusing on Apollo, god of music, among other things, would be narrated by the nine muses. Each of the seven stories (a few of the muses pair up) matches the style of its teller. For instance, Clio, muse of history, presents the story of the death of Apollo’s son, Asklepios, as a kind of documentary, referring often to “the historical record” while reading from a scroll. Meanwhile, Melpomene and Thalia, muses of tragedy and comedy, respectively, recount the tale of Marsyas, who challenged Apollo’s standing as best musician and met a grim end (or a comical one, depending on who you ask). Since there are so many stories about Apollo, these brief glimpses offer a tidy overview of the god, with an emphasis on his more human qualities. O’Connor’s bright, colorful, clear-lined artwork, particularly of the dancing muses, captures movement and emotion beautifully and adds an engaging undercurrent of comedy. Informative back matter, including further reading and endnotes, closes out this excellent piece of graphic nonfiction.

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2015)
O’Connor makes out his latest Olympian as a tragic hero “who has had many loves, but whose loves seldom prosper.” To say the least. No sooner are the frowning lad and his twin sister, Artemis, welcomed to Olympus by their father, Zeus, than Apollo is off to avenge his mother, Leto. He riddles Python, the humongous serpent who had harried Leto at Hera’s instigation, with fiery arrows. He then proceeds himself to harry the virgin nymph Daphne until she is transformed into a laurel, gruesomely flense the satyr Marsyas for claiming to be a better musician, kill his bosom buddy Hyacinth, prince of Sparta, with a misguided discus, and get Artemis to shoot the unfaithful mother of his own not-yet-born son, Asklepios. Finally, he later sees his miraculously rescued son himself killed for creating, as Hades puts it, “a glitch in the system” by healing so many mortals. These and other incidents are narrated, sometimes in Classical meter or rhymed prose, by the nine worshipful Muses–lissome figures who pose and dance gracefully through the panels, then gather at the end to explain why their immortal patron’s unique blend of gifts and faults is profoundly inspirational: “The most divine god is also the most human.” As in previous series entries, the backmatter includes commentary, analysis, reading lists, and discussion questions. Apollo’s darker tendencies overshadow his divine radiance here but, as usual, make better tales. (Olympian family tree) (Graphic mythology. 8-14)

About the Author

George O’Connor is the author of several picture books, including the New York Times bestseller Kapow!, Kersplash, and Sally and the Some-thing. JOURNEY INTO MOHAWK COUNTRY was his first graphic novel, a long-held dream that weaves together his passion for history and ongoing research into Native American life. He’s also the author/illustrator of a new picture book, If I Had a Raptor.
He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

His website is http://olympiansrule.com.

Teacher Resources

The Olympians Activities

Who is Apollo? Lesson Plan

Around the Web

Apollo on Amazon

Apollo on JLG

Apollo on Goodreads



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