Hercules, by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia and Illustrated by Anna Lang is part of the Little Library of Greek Myths published by Starry Forest Books and will be available for purchase on 21 September 2021.
I read this story to my son, Dante, who is turning 4 next month. He really enjoyed it and was engaged from start to finish. It was the perfect length for a bedtime story, not too long to lose his interest and not too short that he felt cheated if we didn’t read a second book.
The artwork was also really good, the bright colors are excellent for kids in this age range, and the story is really easy to follow. There are no big complicated words, and the author retells the trials of Hercules in a way that is understandable to children. Overall, I think this book would be an excellent addition to a children’s library.
My biggest issue is that the book ends without completing the final trial to capture Cerberus, the three-headed dog that guards the underworld. It ends with “a hero like Hercules will definitely succeed.” So it built up the tension for the final trial and then didn’t deliver and I was super confused.
There were several trials that the story skips or sums up with a single sentence, and this didn’t bother me at all because it would have been too long for a bedtime story if they were included, but ending the book with the hero essentially “unfinished” with his trials is a bit irksome. Dante asked me about it too so I think he was a little sad too, but overall he was happy with the book.
If the author was concerned about which trials to cut and keep, I would have cut the trial about stealing Hippolyta’s belt. Dante stopped me in the middle of reading and said “but stealing is bad, why is he stealing her belt?” which was a bit of an awkward moment as a mom and one I would have appreciated not having to be in if there was an option. Given that the author did skip other trials, it would have been good to leave out stealing Hippolyta’s belt and given us the Cerberus story for the end. What kid doesn’t like a three headed dog story?
Overall, it was enjoyable, and I will be reading the other 3 titles in the Little Library of Greek Myths series to my son in the next few days, so stay tuned for those reviews!