Title of the work
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David Pike, Greek Mythology Stories for Kids (Series, Book 1): Monsters of the Greek Myths, MythStreet self-publishing, 2018, 40 pp.
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, Roehampton University, email@example.com
David Pike (Author)
No information available.
The book offers three stories that involve mythological monsters: Amara and the Charming Gold Prisoner; Simon and the Fate of the Labyrinth and Dione, and the cure of the Chimera.
After each story, there is an explanation of the featured mythological monster: Medusa, Minotaur and Chimera.
The stories incorporate fictional characters into the ancient myths to form complete new stories (as in the first and third ones) and use the mythological characters in a new setting.
The language of the stories is clear, although pitched rather higher than is usual in a children's book.
The first story narrates how orphan sisters Amara and Delia wish to steal money from King Linos' palace. Inside the palace, Amara encounters a strange woman who tells her she is a prisoner there. Upon freeing her, Amara discovers that the woman is evil and is called Medusa. She can turn things to stone. Medusa kidnaps Delia and takes her to her cave. With the assistance of the goddess Athena, Amara manages to kill Medusa and from her blood rises the mighty Pegasus. The girls flee from the cave on Pegasus' back.
The second story narrates the myth about Theseus' fight with the Minotaur through the viewpoint of a fictional character, Simon. Simon is one of the children who are shipped as a human sacrifice to the Minotaur. After Ariadne assists Theseus in finding his way in the labyrinth, she accompanies him to his ship. Simon overhears Theseus saying to his men that he must get rid of Ariadne and he decides to abandon her on Naxos. Simon understands that he must save the princess (he fears Theseus' men might kill her). When they arrive close to Naxos, he pushes her into the water and promises to return for her. He then lies to Theseus that she fell and her body is lost. Theseus returns to Athens and forgets to replace his sails, causing the death of his father. After many years, Simon is said to sail back to Naxos and look for Ariadne.
The last story tells of Dione, the daughter of Eumelia and Zeus. After Hera catches Eumelia's breath (or soul), she becomes neither completely dead nor alive. Hera and Zeus then make a bet. Dione must try to save her mother from the underworld. Dione, believing her mother is dead, is brought to King Glaucus of Corinth. Hera makes the king falsely accuse Dione of killing her mother. The king offers her a chance to prove her innocence, by killing the Chimera. With the help of Athena, Dione catches Pegasus and they defeat the Chimera. Hera frees her mother and the two reunite. Zeus plans to welcome his daughter on Olympus, but Hera asks him not to humiliate her further by telling Dione the truth and he agrees.
The author notes that "each unique story covers the basics of the legends of these monsters from a child's point of view." The stories, he adds, are intended for children's entertainment. He refers to the book as "creative history" although it may be better phrased as creative use of ancient myths. While the book may initially appear as a retelling of myths from Greek mythology, it involves other fictional characters made up by the author. The first and third stories change the myths and replace the mythological heroes.
Two of the stories focus on young girls as the main heroines of the stories. They replace the generic mythological male heroes, thereby creating an empowering message for the young female readers of these stories.
The stories, therefore, aim to help the young readers identify with the young fictional protagonists who overcome their fears and save the day. The young hero and heroines save their loved ones and this is what truly makes them heroes. Simon is revealed to be a bigger hero than Theseus since he appreciates Ariadne's sacrifice and saves her, while the guile Theseus wishes to abandon her.
In the appendix on the mythological monsters, the author refers to the origin of Medusa as a mortal woman, violated by Poseidon. He then adds that "In modern retellings, particularly by Ovid, the monster Medusa was eventually defeated by the hero Perseus by cutting her head off with a sword." [p. 14]. There is a slight mixture here of the ancient sources since Ovid is the one who provides more on Medusa's background (Metamorphoses books 4 and 6). Intriguingly, the author chooses to make Medusa the villain of his fictional story, even though he shares her mythological background as a victimized mortal.