Friday, April 24, 2015

Graphic Universe Greek Myths (Lerner Publishing Group)

Graphic Universe is an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group which publishes fiction and nonfiction graphic novels. From their titles, there was a series that stood out to me as awesome. It is called Graphic Myths and Legends, and it features stories from around the world. There are Norse tales like Thor and Loki or a Korean Cinderella story called Pigling. I received a couple different ones to review, but the ones I will be touching on today are both Greek. The first one is called Hercules: The Twelve Labors and the second one is Demeter and Persephone: Spring Held Hostage.

Hercules: The Twelve Labors begins with a two page spread that covers how Hercules was born (son of Zeus and a mortal) and a glimpse at his uniqueness even in early childhood. It then fast-forwards to Hercules as a young man consulting the Oracle (with Hera pretending to be the Oracle). Hera encourages him to travel to see his cousin King Eurystheus. What Hercules didn't know was that his cousin was jealous of him, and Hera encouraged the king to give him impossible to tasks to test his strength and possibly kill him. These became the Twelve Labors.

I won't go into detail and list all twelve labors, but there was the Nemean lion whose hide weapons could not penetrate; a nine-headed hydra; steal the Queen of the Amazons girdle, etc. Hercules did not like doing some of these tasks, as many of them involved stealing. However, Hercules showed to be more than just someone dumb with muscles. He was also smart and cunning, and a man who cared about the well being of others. When stealing the cattle of Geryon, he shot Geryon with a poisoned arrow so that the violence of a potential fight wouldn't harm others. At the end of the book is a brief glossary and additional reading suggestions. This is a good introduction to Hercules and would be well-suited for homeschooling or a traditional classroom. I enjoyed it, but I just wish it had been longer.

Demeter and Persephone: Spring Held Hostage begins by giving background information on who Demeter is, which is the daughter of Persephone and Zeus. (Yes, Zeus has a lot of kids by a lot of different women and goddesses.) We then get information on Zeus and his two brothers - Poseidon and Hades. Zeus chose to rule the sky. Poseidon was granted the water. Hades was granted the underworld. We see all the gods and goddesses happy, but Hades is further isolating himself in loneliness. Hades tells Zeus that he wants a queen and that he has chosen Persephone as the woman he wants, so he kidnaps her.

At first Persephone doesn't like being in the underworld, and who can blame her? She was kidnapped and separated from her mother. However, she begins to grow accustomed to it, and seems to actually love it down there. Readers are treated to a tour of the underworld and what happens to good souls, bad souls, and so-so souls. Because she is in the underworld, the world is in winter, so she has to make the tough choice between staying with Hades or going back up to the world and returning Spring to mankind. When she returns, she gives the people the gift of agriculture, so that she can return to the underworld for half the year and not leave the people in dire need. This isn't my favorite of the Greek myths, but it does a good job explaining the seasons. Like other books in this series, it closes with a glossary and a guide for further reading. If your child likes comics and mythology, this is a good series and one that they will appreciate.

These books were provided to me for free by Lerner Publishing Group in exchange for honest reviews. If you found the reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!