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Classics For Kids

June 14, 1998

BLACK SHIPS BEFORE TROY: The Story of the Iliad. By Rosemary Sutcliff . Illustrated by Alan Lee (Delacorte: 128 pp., $19.95)

Clearly organized, beautifully illustrated, movingly told, this book can capture ordinary kids (adults too) and turn them into classicists.

****

THE ODYSSEY. Retold by Robin Lister . Illustrated by Alan Baker (Kingfisher: 96 pp., $12.95 paper)

Lister arranges for Odysseus to tell his adventures in his own voice when he arrives at the court of King Alcinous in Phaecia. Third-person narration resumes when he returns to Ithaca. Though drastically abridged, this is a lively, appealing retelling.

****

THE ODYSSEY. By Geraldine McCaughrean . Illustrated by Victor G. Ambrus (Oxford University Press: 96 pp., $12.95)

A lively, brief retelling with colorful, action-filled pictures.

****

THE LEGEND OF ODYSSEUS. By Peter Connolly (Oxford University Press: 80 pp., $12.95)

Part of a series, "Rebuilding the Past," this competent retelling also provides maps, illustrations and information enabling readers to imagine prehistoric Greek and Trojan ways of life.

****

THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS: The Story of the Odyssey. By Rosemary Sutcliff . Illustrated by Alan Lee (Delacorte: 120 pp., $22.50)

A worthy successor to "Black Ships Before Troy," equally informative and satisfying.

****

D'AULAIRES' BOOK OF GREEK MYTHS. By Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire (Dell: 192 pp., $17.95)

An oversized, handsome volume, the standard work on this subject, originally published in 1962, good for reading aloud to quite young children, good also for older children to read on their own.

****

FAVORITE GREEK MYTHS. Retold by Mary Pope Osborne . Illustrated by Troy Howell (Scholastic: 96 pp., $17.95)

Twelve myths, conventionally and competently retold, are given lavish painting reminiscent of 18th century neoclassic style. Also provided: a handy Who's Who and a brief selection of English words with Greek origins.

****

THE GODS AND GODDESSES OF OLYMPUS. By Aliki (HarperCollins: 48 pp., $16)

Aliki's tone, in both her relaxed text and gorgeous art, gives an air of great assurance, of being thoroughly at ease, at home, with this material.

****

GREEK MYTHS. Retold by Geraldine McCaughrean . Illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark (Margaret K. McElderry Books: 96 pp., $19.95)

This collection includes 16 major myths with charm and humor both in the text and illustrations. An original, quite daring touch is to conclude with Zeus granting Prometheus freedom as proof that "Even the gods grow wiser as they grow older."

****

GREEK MYTHS FOR YOUNG CHILDREN. By Marcia Williams (Candlewick: 40 pp., $17.95, $7.99 paper)

The comic strip version Williams offers here is raucous, smart and funny.

****

GREEK MYTHS: Gods, Heroes and Monsters, Their Sources, Their Stories and Their Meanings. By Ellen Switzer and Costas . Photographs by Costas (Atheneum / A Jean Karl Book: 224 pp., $18)

Vastly comprehensive, this is a labor of love for present-day and ancient Greece. An excellent compendium and reference source for young adults and adults.

****

THE MACMILLAN BOOK OF GREEK GODS AND HEROES. By Alice Low . Illustrated by Arvis Stewart (Macmillan Books for Young Readers: 192 pp., $16.95)

These lively retellings of the major myths are vibrantly illustrated. Fine quality paper and large print contribute to the book's pleasures.

****

MYTHS AND LEGENDS OF MOUNT OLYMPOS. By Charles F. Baker III and Rosalie F. Baker . Illustrated by Joyce Audy Zarins (Cobblestone: 96 pp., $12.95 paper)

Meant for classroom use, this well-put-together, informative book is also fun to read. It's helpful in explaining the differences between Greek and Roman deities.

****

THE ROBBER BABY: Stories From the Greek Myths. By Ann Rockwell (Greenwillow: 80 pp., $18)

The robber baby is Hermes, who, when he was just one day old, not only succeeded in stealing Apollo's cattle but also invented the lyre. Retellings are matched by illustrations that combine a classic feel with contemporary fun.

****

GODDESSES, HEROES AND SHAMANS: The Young People's Guide to World Mythology. Edited by Cynthia O'Neill, Peter Casterton and Catherine Headlam (Kingfisher: 160 pp., $15.95)

This copiously illustrated book is not a collection of myths but rather a quick look at the histories and a listing of the deities of six regions of the world, with Greece included under "Mediterranean Lands."

****

THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF MYTHS: Tales & Legends of the World. Retold by Neil Philip . Illustrated by Nilesh Mistry (Dorling Kindersley: 192 pp., $19.95)

An astonishingly beautiful, far-reaching myth collection, this book is based on solid scholarship and is sure to turn young readers into myth buffs.

****

MYTHS AND LEGENDS: A Legendary Collection From Around the World. Retold by Anthony Horowitz . Illustrated by Francis Mosley (Kingfisher: 256 pp., $6.95 paper)

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