Zeus, 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.
This is the second book in this series that I’ve read to my son Dante at bedtime. Like the first, Hercules (which you can find my review of here), the bright colors and artwork are really kid friendly and engaging.
Zeus follows a few exploits of the Greek god Zeus and discusses some of his relationships with the other gods, painting a friendly picture of Mount Olympus that successfully avoids any major moral conflicts. So no awkward “Why is he stealing? Stealing is bad” questions from my son this time.
Almost none of the stories were accurate to the Greek myths about Zeus, which wasn’t too problematic for me because the real Zeus (rapist, kidnapper, adulterer, murderer) is really not someone that should be a role model for kids, so taking liberties with his stories in a children’s book I can accept and encourage.
Despite this though, I’m disappointed in this book.
This kid friendly version of Zeus was not very engaging for myself or my son. It was a really generic rendering of a god who just throws thunderbolts.
I would have liked to see retellings that are a bit more relateable to kids. Zeus interacting with his children: how he helped Hercules along his trials, or gave permission to Hermes to help Odysseus escape Calypso, gave Artemis her silver bow, or teamed up with Athena to resolve a conflict, for example.
A retelling about how Zeus viewed the gods squabbling over the Trojan war could have been interesting. A story about the three brothers divvying up rule over heaven, ocean, and underworld would have presented an opportunity to show kids how siblings can reach a compromise when all of them want the same thing. Any of those stories could have been relatable, engaging, and enlightening for a kid.
What I really can’t get behind though, is the exorbitant amount of words on each page. The stories, in addition to being generic, were really long. My son kept interrupting me to show me his toes or tell me some random thing that happened at daycare. The Hercules book did a good job in keeping the story interesting with few enough words on each page that they could be read quickly the page turned to a new picture to keep kids interested. Zeus though, not so much.
I personally would not recommend this book, but it might be worth getting for the sake of having a full collection of Little Library of Greek Myths. It does reveal a little bit about the hierarchy of the gods and introduces Zeus as their leader, which is pretty integral to understanding Greek mythology. So the book is not without its merits. Perhaps a child older than 4 would enjoy it more and maybe be able to read it themselves.
This book is available for purchase along with Hercules and two others which I will also review in the coming days. So stay tuned!