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Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut ill., Les douze travaux d’Hercule, Petites histoires de la mythologie. Paris: Nathan, 2011, 62 pp. / Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill., Orphée aus Enfers, Petites histoires de la mythologie. Paris: Nathan, 2013, 61 pp. / Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill., Zeus le roi des dieux, Petites histoires de la mythologie. Paris: Nathan, 2013, 61 pp.
Courtesy of Univers Jeunesse - Nathan - Syros - Pocket Jeunesse, publisher.
Author of the Entry:
Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Lisa Maurice, Bar Ilan University, email@example.com
Courtesy of Univers Jeunesse - Nathan - Syros - Pocket Jeunesse.
, b. 1977
Born in 1977 in Aubenas, in the Ardèche region, he studied illustration at the Émile Cohl School in Lyons where he received his diploma in 2002. Since, he has been working as illustrator for a number of publishers, namely Bayard, Magnard, Flammarion, Milan jeunesse, Nathan, Sarbacane et Tourbillon. He also works for YA press. Among his illustrations connected to Antiquity are Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey:
L’Odyssée d’Homer, illustré par Nicolas Duffaut. Paris: Nathan, 2009
L’Iliade d’Homer illustré par Nicolas Duffaut, Folio Junior. Paris: Galimard Jeunesse, 2014.
Profile at the editions-sarbacane.com (accessed: June 3, 2018);
Profile at the babelio.com (accessed: June 3, 2018);
Blog (accessed: June 3, 2018).
Interview on YouTube. Uploaded by Librairie Grangier, Illustrateur talentueux, Nicolas Duffaut nous parle de lui et de son travail (accessed: June 3, 2018).
Bio prepared by Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
Portrait, courtesy of Univers Jeunesse - Nathan - Syros - Pocket Jeunesse.
, b. 1954
Born in 1954 in Montreuil, in a family with origins in the Forez Mountains. Because of her father’s occupation (the writer Georges Montforez, 1921-1974), during her childhood and adolescence she frequently moved and lived in many different places: Saint-Étienne, Marvejols, Nantes, Loudun, Issoire. She studied English at the University of Clermont-Ferrand, where she obtained her PhD (L’image des personnages féminins dans la littérature de jeunesse française contemporaine de 1975 à 1995. Lille: Presses universitaires du Septentrion) in 1999. For the last forty years or so, she has lived with her family in the Haute-Garonne, Occitanie. During the last decade, she wrote a number of books based on a variety of Greek myths, with illustrations by Nicholas Duffaut; the books appeared in two series published by Nathan and called: Petites histoires de la mythologie and Contes et légendes jeunesse.
She has written over fifty books, mainly for children and received many literary awards:
1995 2nd prize for roman jeunesse du Ministère de la Jeunesse et des Sports
1998 Price Livrami of the city of Pithiviers,
2003-2004 Price Tatoulu
2004 Price Livre, mon ami, New Caledonia
2007 Price of the City of Cherbourg-Octeville, XVIIIe Livre d’Or des Jeunes Lecteurs Valenciennois, Price Ruralivres en Pas-de-Calais, Price Latulu des collégiens du Maine-et-Loire
2007 and 2008 Price of Readers’ Spring, Narbonne, 2007-2008 Literary price of the Montagnes d’Auvergne
2008 Price Jasmin, Agen, Price Trégor ados, Price Livrentête Culture et Bibliothèques Pour Tous, category Junior Novel.
Chronological bibliography of Hélène Montardre’s books related to classical antiquity
Hélène Montardre. L’Empire romain, Les Essentiels Junior. Toulouse: Milan, 2004.
Hélène Montardre. La Grèce ancienne, Les Encyclopes. Toulouse: Milan, 2004.
Hélène Montardre. La mythologie grecque, Les Encyclopes. Toulouse: Milan, 2008.
Series Petites histoires de la mythologie
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Dans le ventre du cheval de Troie. Paris: Nathan, 2010.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Orphée aus Enfers, Paris: Nathan, 2013.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Les douze travaux d’Hercule. Paris: Nathan, 2011.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Zeus le roi des dieux. Paris: Nathan, 2013.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Héphaïstos et l'amour d'Aphrodite. Paris: Nathan, 2013.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Thésée contre le Minotaure. Paris :Nathan, 2013.
Series Contes et légendes jeunesse
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Persée et la Gorgone. Paris: Nathan, 2010.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Jason et la Toison d'or. Paris: Nathan, 2011.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Le labyrinthe de Dédale. Paris: Nathan, 2011.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Ulysse et le Cyclope. Paris: Nathan, 2011.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. L'enlèvement de Perséphone. Paris: Nathan, 2012.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Achille le guerrier. Paris: Nathan, 2012.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Pégase, l'indomptable. Paris: Nathan, 2012.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Prométhée, le voleur de feu. Paris: Nathan, 2012.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Apollon, le dieu dauphin. Paris: Nathan, 2015.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Les monstres de l'Odyssée. Paris: Nathan, 2016.
Hélène Montardre, Nicolas Duffaut, ill. Hermès Le dieu aux mille dons. Paris: Nathan, 2017.
Source for the Bio :
Website of the Maison des écrivains et de la littérature (accessed: June 26, 2018).
Bio prepared by Elżbieta Olechowska, University of Warsaw, email@example.com
In view of the large number of relatively short and minor books for eight-year old children signed by the author/illustrator duo Montardre & Duffaut, only three representative titles are presented in more detail.
1. Hercules' Twelve Labours
Hercules drinks to excess at a feast and temporarily loses his reason. Without realizing what he is doing, he takes his bow and shoots his wife Megara and his three children, then he falls asleep on the floor. When he wakes up, he is terrified and cannot understand what happened. Somebody explains that it was madness sent by Hera as her revenge for Zeus’ infidelity with Alcmene, Hercules’ mother. The devastated Hercules travels to Delphi to seek advice from the Oracle. The response tells him that he must go to Tiryns and as a penance accomplish all tasks that his cousin King Eurysthaeus demands of him. The King is scared of Hercules and tries to invent impossible tasks to keep Hercules busy and far away. Contrary to Eurysthaeus’ expectations and his hostile attitude towards his cousin, Hercules performs successfully the most difficult tasks. Once his indenture is over, Hercules still remembers and regrets his murdered wife and children but through his labours he learned to live with his regrets and became fully aware of his identity.
The book includes at the end a short informative section entitled: Pour en savoir plus [To learn more about it].
2. Orpheus in the Underworld
Calliope, one of the nine Muses, sings to her baby boy Orpheus who seems to delight in her voice. He grows up to be a child interested in music and indifferent to usual boyish pursuits causing his father to worry. Apollo offers the boy a magic lyre that is supposed to grow with him. Young Orpheus becomes an exceptional musician who plays the lyre mesmerizing his audiences. When Jason announces his plans to travel to Colchis looking for the Golden Fleece, Orpheus volunteers to his father astonishment.
Before he reaches Jason, the fame of his music grows. Jason invites him to join his Argonauts and when Orpheus plays his lyre, the sea becomes gentle, winds guide Argo where it should go, the crew works in harmony. When the Golden Fleece is taken by the Argonauts, Orpheus travels to his native Thrace. One evening, he observes beautiful girls who dance on a clearing. He starts playing the lyre and the girls dance the whole night. In the morning. with one exception, they leave ; but the most beautiful girl, Eurydice, stays to talk to him. She tells him that they are nymphs of the oak tree. Orpheus plays for them during many evenings, and every time when they leave, Eurydice stays a little longer. Finally, they get married on the shore of the river and oaks of the forest dance at the wedding. The couple settles in the regions of Thrace inhabited by the Ciconians. Eurydice’s beauty attracts unwelcome attention. She is forced to flee an aggressive man, Aristaeus, and steps on a viper whose poison kills her. Orpheus is crazed by grief but remembers that Apollo when he gave him the lyre told him that it would take him to a kingdom where no mortal goes. He realizes that Apollo was talking of the Underworld. He takes his lyre and descends to the Underworld. His music charms Charon and Cerberus, and finally also Hades and Persephone who allow him to take Eurydice back among the living under one condition: she will follow him but he cannot try to look at her, if he does, she will remain in the Underworld forever. Orpheus, worried that Eurydice will be lost in the mist, looks back, and she instantly disappears. Devastated and distraught, Orpheus tries again to convince Charon to take him across Styx. He plays and sings for many days and nights but is not granted another chance. Finally, he returns to Thrace and lives there in isolation avoiding all human contact. This attitude offends Maenads who assault him and tear him to pieces. When his lyre continues playing on its own, they throw it after Orpheus head into the river. Both the head and the instrument are brought by the river to a beach where a snake approaches and is at the point of striking when Apollo appears and turns the serpent into stone. He punishes also the Maenads who are transformed in trees and cannot move. The lyre is brought to the sky, as the constellation Lyra.
The shade of Orpheus quickly descends to the Underworld, pays Charon with many coins and finally reunites with his beloved Eurydice.
At the end, again there is a Pour en savoir plus section with basic information about characters and sources.
3. Zeus, the King of Gods
In the mountains on the island of Crete, in a secret clearing, nymphs live, sing, dance, and play undisturbed. A young boy called Zeus plays and runs in the mountains trying to catch Amalthea, a goat with horns full of ambrosia. Zeus grows up and asks nymphs about his parents. At first they speak only about his mother Rhea, but later they tell him about his father, Chronos, who, in trying to prevent a prophecy, devours his children. Zeus was saved by Rhea who gave birth to him on Crete and left him to the care of Amalthea and the nymphs. She showed Chronos a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes instead of her baby and Chronos swallowed the stone, convinced that he devoured Zeus. The boy realizes that once he reaches adulthood, he would have to rejoin his strange family. In fact, when the time comes, he goes to find his father, the gigantic Titan Chronos. While scared of his father, he stays his ground and tell him who he is. Chronos is so astounded that he begins to cough; first, he coughs out the diapered stone, then, one after another all the babies he devoured. Once they touch the ground, they began to grow: they are Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Hestia, and Demeter. After his bout of coughing and regurgitating of devoured children, Chronos lies on the ground unconscious. His three sons and three daughters plan their strategy against their father and the rest of the Titans.
Zeus’ siblings are afraid of the Titans and think they have little chance of winning a war against them, but Zeus, brought up on stories told him by the nymphs, knows of all their potential allies: first, the Cyclopes, locked by Titans inside Gaia, then all the other deities that could be convinced to join. The best place from which the war could be conducted is Mount Olympus. Zeus goes to talk to the Cyclopes, while his siblings try to coopt other gods. The Cyclopes make lightening bolts for Zeus and give him the ability to control the thunder. Finally, Zeus also releases the three Hekatoncheires: Briareus, Kottos, and Gyges. They have no problem standing on Olympus and showering the Titans with huge stones. Zeus strikes them with lightening after lightening. The Titans are overwhelmed. Zeus asks the Hekatoncheires to chain the Titans, imprison them in Tartarus and stand guard there, keeping them deep underground. After a time of peace, Gaia to whose suffering nobody paid attention, brings another plague against Olympus: Typhon the strongest monster in the world. Zeus believes that if the Olympian gods work together, they can vanquish even Typhon. The general battle evolves into a duel between Typhon and Zeus, in which, after a hard fight, Zeus emerges victorious. Typhon falls, the earth opens and swallows him. Zeus’ hair and beard turned white during the duel, he also became taller and his authority shines through. A new order is being introduced: Zeus distributes power between the gods. Poseidon gets the seas, Hades the Underworld and the shades of the dead, Hera becomes the goddess of marriage, Hestia of the hearth, family, and home, Demeter of the harvest, Hecate takes the role of divine advisor, Aphrodite brings love, and so on, so that every goddess and god gets a special responsibility.
At the end, like in the previous two books, a Pour en savoir plus section provides basic information about characters and sources.
Adaptations of well known myths for fairly young children (8-year old) are presented as coherent and fascinating stories. Pleasant reading for that age group. Expressive illustrations, even though only in black and white. The three selected stories are typical for this kind of children’s series. There are practically no deviations from the canonical versions of the myths but the manner, style, and language of the gentle narration are in line with simple poetics of stories for young children and with their specific educational purpose.
A didactic-cognitive aspect is present in the stories themselves, as well as in the final more encyclopedic section. Good balance maintained between the interesting adventurous narrative and general mythological information. The series covers a number of myths and individual volumes constitute a cohesive and representative collection of myths for young school children who by reading it acquire a basic knowledge of Greek mythology.