Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas

41611606Lynn: Who knew! Zeus, ruler of heaven and earth, started out as a lonely kid just wanting someone to play with! Well – that is G. Brian Karas’ take on it anyway in his exuberant romp, Young Zeus (Scholastic 2010). Karas starts his version with a cast of characters and pronunciation guide that will be very welcome to young readers new to Greek mythology. He then goes on to fill in what might have happened between Zeus being hidden as an infant and taking over as ruler of everything. After Ammy (Amaltheia the enchanted she-goat) explains about his father Cronus’ fear of being overthrown leading him to swallow all his babies, Zeus decided to free his siblings so he can have some playmates. His mother helps him devise a plan that works but it’s not recess yet! The siblings have riled up the Titans and it takes a whole bundle of lightning bolts – a gift to Zeus from the Cyclopes – to get that little issue out of the way. Finally Zeus becomes the boss of everyone and schedules play dates and fun for all.

Karas’ funny gouache and pencil sketches and conversational tone work wonderfully to create an appealing and accessible introduction to mythology. The illustrations provide visual clues and youngsters are sure to be enchanted. Karas skirts the racier side of mythology, keeping it appropriate for classroom read alouds.

Cindy: I’ve never had any formal study of mythology, being more of a folklore gal myself (unless you count reading Percy Jackson) so I appreciate any books that can help me catch up with my myth-loving students who are fired up from reading Rick Riordan. There’s an exuberance here that is infectious and we all need more play in our lives. I also admire heroes who can compose songs while under threat of being eaten by a dragon:

Dragon, dragon, fearsome beast,
Don’t eat me, for I’m no feast.
If sweet is what you like to eat,
Have some honey.
It’s yum-yum-yummy!

Thanks to Wendie’s Wanderings for hosting this week’s Nonfiction Monday blog round-up.nonfictionmonday1

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

1 Comment on "Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas"

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  1. brittanykwilson@gmail.com' Brittany Wilson says:

    This looks like a great book, and I know I’d giggle quite a bit, since I have been a student of Greek Mythology and I know what *really* happened to end Chronos’ reign. It definitely wasn’t a kid-friendly end in the original!

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