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Review: Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunders

"WARNING: These aren’t your parents’ Greek Myths!" With monsters and gods and heroes and bunnies, these tales have it all. Action! Romance! Stupidity! A Toaster! Michael Townsend retells nine Greek myths with his unique style of humorous comics.

Amazing Greek Myths of Wonders and Blunders
Michael Townsend
Age Rating: 8-12; Grades 3-7
Dial Books for Young Readers, January 2010, ISBN: 978-0-8037-3308-4
160 pages, $14.99

Townsend, creator of the Kit Feeney graphic novel series, turns his attentions to classical mythology, proving that no subject is safe from laughter. Readers, especially boys, will be thrilled with his no-holds-barred silliness while they also learn the basics of several Greek myths. Even though Townsend adds wacky touches–child Hercules turns the poisonous animals Hera tries to kill him with into socks and Arachne raps about her weaving prowess–he keeps the basics of the myths intact. Many of the changes are simple edits to make them more child appropriate, but even those are done with a light touch. For example, when Hera makes Hercules go mad and kill his family, the murders are hidden behind two black panels with the word "CENSORED" written in bold red letters. That’s not to say that there isn’t still blood. We see on Hercules’ hands in the next panel and in "Pyramus and Thisbe: An Icky Love Story," the lovers still meet their untimely ends through suicide. But everything is played for silliness. Good is often clueless, which is usually what thwarts evil and the gods are shown to be as fallible as the Greeks believed them to be.

The art is in bright colors, with clear chapter breaks between the stories. Townsend’s style is cartoonish, with just the right touch of wacky good fun. He’s skilled at showing characters’ emotions and uses that skill at just the right moments to make readers laugh out loud. His clever use of language is also a plus, whether he’s building up to a pun or reminding readers about the complex family relationships between the gods and mortals. Dial has done a bang-up production job on this book. The school/library binding is sturdy, the pages are shiny with the images printed crisp and clean, and the $14.99 price is a deal for a book that looks to last through multiple re-readings. This crazy book should sell itself by the cover, while also attracting new readers to a library’s mythology section.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.


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