Review | Zeus – by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia, Illustrated by Anna Lang

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!

Review | Hercules – by Sonia Elisabetta Corvaglia, Illustrated by Anna Lang

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!

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