Tag Archives: mythology

Bull by David Elliott

Bull by David Elliott. March 28, 2017. HMH Books for Young Readers, 200 p. ISBN: 9780544610606.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.

SEE THE STORY OF THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR
IN A WHOLE NEW LIGHT

Minos thought he could
Pull a fast one
On me,
Poseidon!
God of the Sea!
But I’m the last one
On whom you
Should try such a thing.
The nerve of that guy.
The balls. The audacity.
I AM THE OCEAN!
I got capacity!
Depths! Darkness! Delphic power!
So his sweet little plan
Went big-time sour
And his wife had a son
Born with horns and a muzzle
Who ended up
In an underground puzzle.
What is it with you mortals?
You just can’t seem to learn:
If you play with fire, babies,
You’re gonna get burned.

Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda did in Hamilton, the New York Times best-selling author David Elliott turns a classic on its head in form and approach, updating the timeless story of Theseus and the Minotaur for a new generation. A rough, rowdy, and darkly comedic young adult retelling in verse, Bull will have readers reevaluating one of mythology’s most infamous monsters.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes; Bestiality

 

Author Videos

Reviews

Booklist starred (December 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 8))
Grades 9-12. This striking reexamination of the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur maintains the bones of the original story: Minos, King of Crete, angers sea god Poseidon, who exacts his revenge not on the king but on the king’s wife. Queen Pasiphae, seduced by a bull, births Asterion, the famed future Minotaur, who is ultimately locked in a labyrinth and killed by hero Theseus. Elliott focuses this novel in verse on Asterion and the women in his family, painting them in a particularly sympathetic light. Rotating first-person narrations appear in a variety of poetic forms. Poseidon takes on the role of irreverent, anachronistic narrator, as he raps the story (“Life’s not for wimps. / Sometimes gods are gods / And sometimes they’re pimps”); Pasiphae grows increasingly nonsensical; Asterion speaks in childlike rhymes; Daedalus, labyrinth builder, is ever the architect with rigid, four-line stanzas; and princess Ariadne’s flowery language is imbued with a clever slant rhyme that belies her coquettish facade. When Theseus the hero finally struts onto the page, it’s with significant frat-bro swagger (“Ariadne! What a rack! / I knew I’d get her in the sack / As for her bro? / He won’t outlive me. / No sweat. / In time they all forgive me”). Effective both for classrooms and pleasure reading, this modernization brings new relevancy to an old story. It’s a conceit that easily could have floundered; in Elliott’s capable hands, it soars.

Horn Book Magazine (March/April, 2017)
There’s little grand or heroic in Elliott’s clever verse version of the classical story of the Minotaur: its title, Bull, is topically and colloquially apt. The story unrolls in the voices of seven characters, each with his or her own poetic form (an appended author’s note details them), but it’s the god Poseidon who determines the tone—as instigator, manipulator, and despiser of humankind. His raunchy, derisive take on humans (“Man! / That guy’s a dick!” he says of Minos) is a spreading stain that permeates even the innocence of Asterion the bull-headed boy, maternal Pasiphae (who “take[s] refuge in madness”), and valiant Ariadne. The sympathetic heart of Elliott’s story is Asterion/the Minotaur: Elliott presents him as a physically deformed youth, suffering cruelly from his hateful father’s abuse. But Poseidon’s voice comments on all, and Elliott characterizes him as despicable, misogynistic, and sexually prurient. Raplike wordplay, rhymes with coercive predictability, unpleasant intensity—it’s horribly effective, culminating in the god’s conclusion: “the things you mortals do: / Ridicule. / Follow orders. / Stay passive. / Betray. / What a pity! / It could have gone another way.” Such is the matter of the Greek myths. deirdre f. baker

About the Author

David Elliott is the author of The Cool Crazy Crickets and The Transmogrification of Roscoe Wizzle. He says of And Here’s To You!, “My neighbor’s rooster and I were having a disagreement. I wanted to sleep in the morning; he wanted to crow. The rooster won, of course. The first verse of And Here’s To You! is a tribute to his victory and to the joys found in simply following your nature.”

Her website is www.davidelliottbooks.com.

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Bull on Amazon

Bull on Goodreads

Bull on JLG

Bull Publisher Page

The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan

The Dark Prophecy: The Trials of Apollo, Book Two by Rick Riordan. May 2, 2017. Disney-Hyperion, 414 p. ISBN: 9781484746424.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 6.6.

Zeus has punished his son Apollo—god of the sun, music, archery, poetry, and more—by casting him down to earth in the form of a gawky, acne-covered sixteen-year-old mortal named Lester. The only way Apollo can reclaim his rightful place on Mount Olympus is by restoring several Oracles that have gone dark. What is affecting the Oracles, and how can Apollo do anything about them without his powers?

After experiencing a series of dangerous—and frankly, humiliating—trials at Camp Half-Blood, Apollo must now leave the relative safety of the demigod training ground and embark on a hair-raising journey across North America. Fortunately, what he lacks in godly graces he’s gaining in new friendships—with heroes who will be very familiar to fans of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series. Come along for what promises to be a harrowing, hilarious, and haiku-filled ride. . . .

Sequel to: The Hidden Oracle

Part of Series: The Trials of Apollo

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns; Violence; Animal cruelty; Murder

Book Trailer

 

About the Author

Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

His website is www.rickriordan.com.

Teacher Resources

Trials of Apollo  Teaching Resources

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The Dark Prophecy on Amazon

The Dark Prophecy on JLG

The Dark Prophecy on Goodreads

The Dark Prophecy Publisher Page

Artemis by George O’Connor

Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt by George O’Connor. January 31, 2017. First Second, 80p. ISBN: 9781626720152.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 3.0.

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 (Book 9)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence; Mild sexual themes

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2016)
O’Connor offers a portrait of the Wild Goddess of the Hunt as probably the last of the Olympians you’d want to cross.Born without labor pains (unlike her twin brother, Apollo) and a picture of gap-toothed charm as a child, Artemis grows into a lissome young white hunter with a ferocious glare beneath blonde bangs and a short way with all who offend her. Acteon learns this when he spots her bathing and is transformed into a deer to be torn apart by his own hounds, as does Queen Niobe of Thebes after she sets herself up as a replacement for the twins’ mother and sees all 14 of her children slaughtered. To keep temptation at bay and her sworn virginity intact, Artemis ultimately even has an arrow for her soul mate, the peerless hunter Orion—himself born, so the tale goes, from a bearskin on which Zeus, Poseidon, and Hermes “all, uh, micturated” (“Fun with words, kids,” O’Connor comments in an endnote). He is portrayed here as a brown-skinned  hunk with a herculean physique. Though the Olympians here are, by and large, a pale lot, groups of humans and demigods display some variation in hue. Artemis and Atalanta in particular show rather a lot of skin, but artful hand placement and angles of view keep things PG. Admire her—from a distance—and don’t dis her or her mom. (notes, character profiles, discussion questions, reading lists) (Graphic mythology. 8-14)

School Library Journal (January 1, 2017)
Gr 4-8-With the latest in his series of books focused on the Greek deities, O’Connor brings to life the goddess of the hunt. Various individuals share anecdotes, weaving a nuanced portrait of Artemis: formidable, quick-witted, occasionally cruel, yet always deeply devoted to the natural world and intensely protective of women and girls. The images are dynamic, with the use of different perspectives creating drama and suspense. Blonde, blue-eyed Artemis is illustrated with cool tones, befitting her characterization. Complementing the visuals, the writing is exciting yet lyrical, evoking the poetry of the original legends. Some stories contain violence, and there is brief nudity but nothing explicit (in one scene, the hunter Actaeon spies the goddess bathing naked and as punishment is transformed into a stag and devoured by his own dogs). The back matter is particularly noteworthy: in “Greek Notes,” O’Connor provides insightful-and witty-commentary, and his bibliography will intrigue readers curious about the source material. Though the author is true to the original tales (never shying away from their less savory elements), he injects a feminist perspective, emphasizing Artemis’s strong relationships with other women and, in “Greek Notes,” referring to Actaeon as a “creepy peeping Tom.” VERDICT An excellent addition to graphic novel and Greek mythology collections.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

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

Around the Web

Artemis on Amazon

Artemis on Goodreads

Artemis on JLG

Artemis Publisher Page

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

Reviews

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

 

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

The Hammer of Thor: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book Two by Rick Riordan. October 4, 2016. Disney-Hyperion, 480 p. ISBN: 9781423160922.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 5.1; Lexile: 690.

Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.

Sequel to: The Sword of Summer

Part of Series: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Discrimination; Violence; Mild sexual themes; Reference to drugs; Allusions to abuse

 

Book Trailer

Book Tour

Reviews

Booklist (January 1, 2017 (Online))
Grades 6-9. Death has been pretty good to Magnus Chase, son of Norse god Frey. After a victory against Fenris Wolf, preventing Ragnarok (for now), Magnus has started to settle into his (after)life in Valhalla. But nothing is quiet for long when gods are involved: Thor’s hammer is missing again (shh); two of Magnus’ best friends have disappeared; Valkyrie Samirah, a daughter of Loki, is being forced into marriage with a giant king; and Loki himself might be behind it all. It’s a good thing Magnus has allies—even if they include a talking sword with a penchant for Top 40 songs. Riordan combines Norse mythology with a number of social issues: gender fluidity (Alex, a child of Loki, was born male but predominately identifies as female), disability (elf Hearthstone is deaf, and several characters know ASL), and race and religion (Samirah balances her Muslim faith with her Valkyrie duties). There’s some crossover with characters from Riordan’s other series, and the ending promises more overlap in future installments. A surefire hit.

Kirkus Reviews (October 15, 2016)
It’s the end of the world as they know it, and Magnus Chase and his godly cohorts are back for another round of sword fighting and wisecracking.With Ragnarok rapidly approaching, Magnus and his friends are charged with retrieving Thor’s magical hammer in time to stop giants from invading the human world. This latest installment in Riordan’s Nordic-themed fantasy series is a fast-paced adventure narrative featuring snappy dialogue and a diverse cast of well-developed characters. The author possesses a singular talent for re-creating contemporary teenspeak. In his capable hands, Magnus’ cocksure attitude and pithy observations further establish him as completely distinct from other Riordan protagonists as he races from Newbury Street in Boston to Provincetown, Massachusetts, searching for the elusive hammer, which is still missing after the events of series opener The Sword of Summer (2016). The author effectively interposes racial and sexual complexity into the typically all-white Norse mythological world through the addition of Alex Fierro—Muslim Valkyrie Sam’s shape-shifting gender-fluid half sibling—who may or may not be a double agent for their father, Loki. He also deepens the mythology surrounding the Chase family’s connection to the various gods, neatly connecting this series with the exploits of Percy Jackson’s Greco-Roman heroine Annabeth Chase. An entertaining sequel that will whet fans’ appetites for the next installment. (Fantasy. 10-14)

About the Author

Rick Riordan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus. He is also the author of the multi-award-winning Tres Navarre mystery series for adults.

For fifteen years, Rick taught English and history at public and private middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Texas. In 2002, Saint Mary’s Hall honored him with the school’s first Master Teacher Award.

While teaching full time, Riordan began writing mystery novels for grownups. His Tres Navarre series went on to win the top three national awards in the mystery genre – the Edgar, the Anthony and the Shamus. Riordan turned to children’s fiction when he started The Lightning Thief as a bedtime story for his oldest son.

Rick Riordan now writes full-time. He lives in Boston with his wife and two sons.

His website is www.rickriordan.com.

Teacher Resources

Magnus Chase Discussion Guide

Norse mythology Teaching Resources

Around the Web

The Hammer of Thor on Amazon

The Hammer of Thor on JLG

The Hammer of Thor on Goodreads