Retold Classic Myths

Posted 4 April, 2008 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 17 Comments

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Title: Retold Classic Myths – Volume 1
Author: William S.E. Colman Jr
Date Finished: March 31, 2008
Yearly Count: 17
Pages: 155

I picked up this little gem at the used bookstore and I’m having troubles finding the other two volumes to purchase for a decent price. I don’t think they are in print anymore, and I certainly can’t find a picture of my cover (this cover is vol 2–mine has Medea with flying dragons).

The book contains eight short stories and is targeted to the younger reader– probably geared towards 5th or 6th graders.. Each section begins with a vocabulary overview and ends with “insights.” I read the first couple of stories aloud to Hubby during a recent road trip (short one) and had a lot of fun with them, although some of the stories are better than others.

Creation of Titans and Gods – The struggle of silly men for power. Ha ha!

Prometheus – Prometheus stole fire from Zeus to give to the young human race, but Zeus punished him for disobeying him.

Labors of Heracles – Heracles must perform 12 impossible tasks in order to gain forgiveness for his sins. While most of the labors are quickly brushed upon without really explaining why the tasks were supposed to be impossible or how Heracles went about completing them, some were a detailed a little more. One of these was the story of how Heracles persuaded Atlas to search for the Golden Apples. In return Heracles agreed to hold the heavens for Atlas. Atlas thought he could trick Heracles into holding the heavens forever, but Heracles asked Atlas to hold up the sky for a minute while he stretched his back. Atlas obliged and as soon as they made their trade, Heracles made a run for it.

Circe and Odysseus – a snippet from The Odyssey; the witch/goddess Circe turns Odysseus’s men into pigs

Aeneas’ Trip to Underworld – a snippet from Aeneid; Aeneas makes his famous journey to the Underworld where he encounters his family and the fallen soldiers from the Trojan war before making his way to Italy.

Follies of Midas – the greedy king who wishes for everything he touches to turn to gold.

Cupid and Psyche – the classic love story of true love and faith over beauty.

Jason and Golden Fleece – this, unfortunately, is the worst story of the bunch. I’m not sure if it was written by a different person (or really who wrote any of these adaptations), but it seemed as if this story was all over the place. There was a lot of focus on Medea, but perhaps there was simply too much information being crammed in 20 pages.

This was a great collection for intro to mythology. Hubby and I loved the Insights sections where we learned things like why Atlas is pictured as holding the earth, not the sky (because Greeks finally decided the sky was not going to fall afterall and didn’t need holding up). If anyone has another good mythology collection they’d like to recommend, I’m all ears!

17 Responses to “Retold Classic Myths”

  1. Sounds like a very nice introduction to Greek Mythology…it’s just too bad about the last story. The way you described the book reminded me of the collection I read until it literally fell apart while I was growing up: Gods, Men and Monsters from the Greek Myths by Michael Gibson.

  2. I love the Greek myths and legends and this sounds like a lovely book to get someone started in reading about them. Good luck tracking down the others in the series.

  3. I remember reading myths in sixth grade and loving them. Unfortunately, I haven’t read too many since then. However, it is interesting to know that the emphasis is still being placed on them in elementary school for being a well rounded reader.

  4. This does sound interesting, Trish. My dad was really into mythology when I was growing up (he took a college course and it never ended after that) and so I was exposed to quite a bit of it at a young age. I kind of moved away from it as I got older, but I like to revisit the stories and read retellings now and then. Thanks for the review!

  5. *Nymeth – I’ll have to check that one out. I wish I still had all of my books from when I was a child. I was able to save quite a bit, but there are few that have since disappeared. There was one fantasical storybook that I had with the most vivid illustrations that I can still remember, but I don’t know the name. Urg! :)

    *Rhinoa – it was a nice starter book. I was familiar with many of the stories, but I loved the “insights” section at the end that gave little tidbits to tie things together. It amazes me how intertwined myth is with modern culture.

    *Bellezza – Well, this book I have is from 1990, so who knows if they are still being taught. I’ll have to ask my brother who is in 6th grade. I can’t remember when I started learning about mythology, but I can remember when my mom went back to college and would tell us the stories she learned in class. I loved that time.

    *Lit Feline – I would love to read more mythology, but since joining this Once Upon a Time challenge, I’ve been really aware of how often myth creeps into what I read. Snow Crash was filled with mythology.

  6. I swear I had that same book as a kid! The picture looks so familiar. I think my son liked D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths, and the one Nymeth recommended.

  7. Trish, I just read your comment wondering about my review on “Season of Sacrifice.” I didn’t mean to publish it yet and didn’t know it would end up on Google. Whoops. I’ll be publishing the review on May 3 and welcome your comments then. Thanks for stopping by.

  8. *Dewey – thanks for the titles, I’ll have to check them out. It seems as though these books aren’t made anymore–what a coincidence that would be if you had one in the series! :)

    *Framed – thanks for the info. Sometimes people delete posts, so I wasn’t sure if that was the case. That Google Reader sometimes is tricky!

  9. I too love all the Greek and Roman myths and think that it is great that there are books that are geared towards exposing the young reader to the foundations of the storytelling that we enjoy today. I’ll keep this in mind for future gifts!

  10. Carl – This was a great way to start the challenge. Unfortunately when I was in college I wanted the money for the books more than the books themselves (what was I thinking!!!), so I sold my mythology reader back. But this one worked well!

  11. Hello fellow Maw-books winner! Just thought I’d stop by and say *squeeeeeeee!* Aren’t book giveaways fun? As for myths, I’m actually just starting ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Greek Mythology’ – or something (I’m reading an online copy, otherwise I’d go look it up) and so far it’s pretty awesome. Well laid out, funny, easy to read. Anyways, enjoy your books!

  12. *Raych – Winning those giveaways TOTALLY made my week! I almost didn’t enter any because I was pressed for time (with all the silly requirements of post links on your blog, post back here, yadi yadi), but I’m glad I did! Hope you like Idoiot’s Guide to Greek Mythology–sounds like fun!

  13. I second the recommendation for the D’Aulaires books. Also Bulfinch’s Age of Fable is beautifully written and includes small snatches of poetry in connection with each fable.

    BTW, I love talking about our homeschool experience. If you have any questions you can email me at becky_quilts @ sbcglobal.net. Just close the gaps. =)

  14. *Petunia – I saw Bulfinch’s Age of Fable at the used bookstore and *almost* picked it up but was looking for something “lighter” due to time constraints. I’ll have to go back and check it out.

    Thanks for the offer about homeschool chat–when I didn’t hear back from you I thought I might have offended you, which was certainly not my intention! It’s funny because I was JUST reading nasty debate on one of the Yahoo bookclubs that I used to be active in. Homeschooling seems to be an extremely touchy subject!!

  15. Sorry I didn’t ever get back with you about it. Actually I typed up a long email before I realized that I didn’t have access to your email addy. I’m not at all offended by curiosity and questions. But the comment section of a blog is a tight spot to explain everything.

  16. I’d highly recommend the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis as a great read. The author’s imagination and creativity never cease to amaze me. Although most might think that they are for children.,I think most adults would also enjoy reading them.
    In fact, Disney is coming up with the latest Narnia movie-Prince Caspian, this May 16th!! It promises to be awesome by the looks of the trailer. (watch the trailer here-http://www.disney.in/narnia
    It’ll enthrall you for sure!) I think its very well-timed also, especially for the kids who’d be on summer break. So dont miss it! The very hot Ben Barnes is playing Prince Caspian. I’m soo awaiting this release!

  17. *Simran – It has been years and years since I read Lion Witch and the Wardrobe. I would *love* to read all of them together, it is just finding the time! :) Thanks for coming by! Oh ya…Prince Caspian does look hot in the previews! ;)