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Elena Paige, Taki and Toula Time Travelers Book 3: Zeus Tames his Temper, Angelos Publishing. Kindle edition, 2018, pp. 37
Children (5-10 (primary school age))
We are still trying to obtain permission for posting the original cover.
Author of the Entry:
Ayelet Peer, Bar-Ilan University, email@example.com
Peer-reviewer of the Entry:
Lisa Maurice, Bar-Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, email@example.com
Josef Hill (Illustrator)
Elena Paige (Author)
From her website: “Elena Paige is a children's and teen author with a background in counselling psychology.” She has written numerous series for children; among them Taki and Toula Time Travelers, The Magicians, Evie Everyday Witch and more.
Official website (accessed: September 24, 2019)
Bio prepared by Ayelet Peer, Bar- Ilan University, firstname.lastname@example.org
In this time-traveling series third installment, two modern day Greek children from Crete, Toula (8 yrs old girl) and Taki (6 yrs old boy) find strange traditional Greek shoes called tsarouhia in their mother’s chest. They find out that wearing these shoes enable them to time-travel to ancient Greece (see here).
In this book, they arrive in the midst of a fiery argument between Zeus, Hades and Poseidon regarding the rule over the gods. The children help Zeus control his rage (and his thunderbolts) and offer the god a fair method to decide who will rule each part of the world, namely drawing straws. In the end, Zeus draws the longest straw and wins the competition and the children return to their own time.
This series utilizes the time-traveling trope, not only to familiarize the young readers with the ancient past, but also to place emphasis on one’s inner strength. Toula and Taki’s adventures in the past cause them to confront mythical gods and heroes, who, although they may appear powerful, actually lack self-confidence. The children therefore help these mighty gods and heroes discover their inner courage and self-worth in the hope that the readers will learn from the narrated events and will be empowered by them.
In this story, we have a rendition of the drawing of lots between the three powerful Olympian gods in order to decide who would be the ruler. There are various versions regarding the allotment of each sphere. In Hesiod’s Theogony, (881-885), it is stated that Zeus was the one to decide for the other gods, after they all accepted him as ruler.
However, in the Iliad (2.15.185-195), Poseidon mentions that three brothers drew lots fairly to divide the world between them. This myth eventually permeated all other accounts (from antiquity to modern anthologies) and became the favorite (and dominant) version of this tale.
In the present adventure, the children arrive at Mt. Olympus and witness an argument between Zeus, Poseidon and Hades. The gods are fiercely vying for supremacy. Zeus is the main protagonist, whom the children need to help this time. Zeus is a favorite character for authors, especially due to his role as the King of the gods, but the god’s image varies from book to book. He can be portrayed as: hot-tempered yet kind, as in the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams; as a scheming, manipulative man, as in Kate McMullan’s Myth-O-Mania series; or as mean and conceited, usually in renditions of Pandora’s box, for example in Pandora’s Box & Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head by Marcia Williams (1991).
In our story, the all-powerful Zeus behaves like a little child, which makes him laughable. He cannot control his temper and consequently falls into a crack in the earth which his lightning created. While down in the crack with the children, the author emphasizes the reversion of roles: the mighty god is helpless and ridiculed by his two colleagues, while the children are confident. Zeus screams that he does not need any help, which frightens Toula, yet Taki, the author tells us, is not afraid of Zeus, and even kicks his leg. In this episode the author shows that we should not be deterred by someone who screams or acts scarily. They are nothing but bullies, as Taki reproaches Zeus.
After being kicked by Taki, Zeus begins to cry. The author employs the crying motif as a way to reveal the vulnerability and insecurity of the character. For example, in a previous book, Athena cried when she was too scared to compete with Poseidon. Even mighty gods can cry and feel scared.
Zeus then laments his actions, in what seems like quite an immature way for an old man:
“’I’m sorry I lost my temper. I’m sorry I am down in this hole. I am very sorry I bullied my brothers, Hades and Poseidon. I want to be in charge and they won’t let me’, said Zeus.” p. 17
While it seems as if Zeus is sorry, his rhetoric discloses his true feelings- his brother will not bow to his will and each of them insists he would make a better ruler than Zeus. In the accompanying illustration, Zeus stands with his hand behind his back and his head and eyes cast down, looking shameful and sad. The illustration complements Zeus’ narrated behavior; he appears like a child who is ashamed for his actions yet finds it difficult to restrain himself.
In the end, Taki suggests that Zeus hold a competition to decide on the ruler. Zeus is still reluctant to lose, and begins to tense, so the children hug him. Again the children are deliberate portrayed as being the mature grown-ups. Toula remembers that whenever she lost her temper her mother gave her a hug so she hugs Zeus to pacify him. This is a small tip for the reader (and their parents) as a way to reduce anger. Zeus is still scared to lose the competition but he learned to control his temper, which is more important. When we learn to control ourselves, we are already the ruler of our own behavior; if one cannot control himself he cannot rule others.