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Review: Hera

Finished all the current Rick Riordan books?  Looking for some more Greek Mythology to satiate you or your child’s curiosity?  Then if you haven’t gotten lost in George O’Connor’s Olympian series, it’s only the start of August. There’s still a whole month left to summer vacation, so it isn’t too late!

Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory
(Book 3, Olympians)
O’Connor, George
Ages 9-13, Grades 4-7
First Second, 2011, 978-1-59643-433-2
$9.99, 80 pp.

As a middle school librarian for 9 years, Greek Mythology has always been a section in the library that needed upkeep. For a while, students only looked for the books as a tie-in for their social studies lessons.  Ancient Civilizations is a huge chunk of the 6th grade social studies curriculum in my school, but Rick Riordan has made mythology exciting again and I’m constantly seeking new and exciting titles to satiate a need.

Enter The Olympians – what a clever mix of comics and mythology.  But what really makes this a worthwhile title is the heart, the high caliber research, the superb storytelling and the eye-catching art work.

When I sit to read these titles, I come with very little background knowledge.  I never studied Greek Mythology in school, and only knew stories in passing. Those that are famous, I know of. Others not so much.  I never truly had an interest in Greek Mythology, but this series makes me want to know more.

Hera focuses on … well Hera, Zeus’s wife.  The Queen Goddess and most notably Heracles (better known as Hercules) and his ten labors.  I did feel like the book was more about Heracles than it was about Hera. Though I absolutely understood the tie-in. Hera gave life to Heracles when he was near death as a baby. She did so, on condition that when he was grown he would face 10 labors.  As watch Hera watching Heracles, it’s quite obvious she wants him to fail.  At least that was how I perceived it, but those who know the story, know he did not fail.

A small little quibble I had with the book was that someone like me, who knows so little about mythology, had to look up Heracles to confirm what I thought: That Heracles and Hercules are one in the same. I looked through the notes in the back of the book and I didn’t find any confirmation, though I thought it would be there. I guess, O’Connor stays true to the Greek, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say not all kids will realize that Heracles and Hercules are one in the same. But maybe that’s a bit condescending of me.

I’m not sure what to write about the artwork, except that it rocks. The colors are bold, but dark. I didn’t find the colors popped at me in a bright, smiley kind of way, but it works for the tone of the book.  This title adds to a truly perfect series.

I can’t wait for volume 4… Hades!  That’s going to be a hot title!

You can see a preview of the first few pages here.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © First Second.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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