The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Classical Culture - October 2007

Selected and annotated by Ying Yi Ong

Blacklock, Dyan.The Roman Army: The Legendary Soldiers who Created an Empire. Walker, 2004. Gr. 4-8.
Blacklock provides an overview of the might and strength of the Roman Army in its heyday. He discusses roman garb, armor, weaponry, and military tactics, just to name a few. All this is done with the help of pictures, diagrams, and the impressive quality of David Kennett’s artwork.

Cadnum, Michael.Starfall: Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun. Orchard, 2004. Gr. 5-9.
In the first book of Cadnum’s expected trilogy, the myth of Phaeton is retold. Phaeton, having had his parentage challenged, seeks out his father Apollo. Apollo is delighted to acknowledge his son and grants him anything his heart desires. When Phaeton requests to drive Apollo’s chariot across the skies on its daily trip, Apollo has no choice but to agree despite his reservations…

Coville, Bruce.Thor's Wedding Day. Harcourt, 2005. Gr. 4-6.
The Norse poem “Thrymskvitha” sets the stage for this story, and the narration falls to Thialfi, the goat boy. Mighty Thor discovers that his hammer, the Mjollnir, is missing, and what follows is a delightful story which includes Thor’s cross-dressing in order to retrieve his beloved hammer.

Fanelli, Sara.Mythological Monsters of Ancient Greece. Candlewick, 2002. Gr. 3-6.Fanelli uses a mix of techniques, such as cut-outs of papers and photographs, combining them with drawings to create collage monsters. Each monster is introduced very briefly, which may require supplementary material for a better understanding. There is also a short quiz at the end of the book to review the monsters.

Fisher, Leonard Everett.Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Norse. Holiday House, 2002. Gr. 3-6.
The fourteen main gods and goddesses of Norse mythology, including Thor and Loki, are introduced in this book. Succinct introductions and stylized paintings accompany each entry. The book also includes a map of the Norse mythological world, a pronunciation guide, and a Norse gods family tree.

Friesner, Esther.Tempting Fate. Dutton, 2006. Gr. 6-8.
Ilana gets a summer job at Divine Relief Temp Agency, whose clients include Greek gods and goddesses. Her first assignment is temping for the Fates, and Ilana soon comes to the realization that she will have to find a way to get through a very unusual summer.

Galloway, Priscilla.The Courtesan's Daughter. Delacorte, 2002. Gr. 8-10.
When Phano is courted by Theo, who is quickly rising to a position of leadership, her parentage is called into question. Rumors that Phano’s mother was a courtesan would affect her eligibility in marriage. This story is based on the account of an actual court case, and Galloway inserts historical details in her book, such as the social structure in place, the position of women, and rites and rituals of various cultures.

Geras, Adèle.Ithaka. Harcourt, 2006. Gr. 9-12.
When Odysseus goes to war, Penelope is left behind to bring up their son, Telemachus. Using The Odyssey as backdrop for this story, Geras weaves a story around Penelope’s life while Odysseus is gone.

Jones, Diana Wynne.The Game. Firebird/ Penguin, 2007. Gr. 5-7.
Jones reworks strands of Greek and Roman myths in this story about a girl, Hayley, sent away to live with her relatives in Ireland. There, she and her cousins play a game in the mythosphere, a realm where myths and stories come alive. In the process, she not only finds her parents (who were presumed dead) actually trapped in that realm, but also begins to grow into her identity.

McMullan, Kate.Have a Hot Time, Hades! Volo/ Hyperion, 2002. Gr. 4-6.
Narrator Hades is the long-suffering older brother of Zeus. In this account, he gives the “true” story of how Zeus came to be CEO (Chairgod of Everybody on Olympus) and him Ruler of the Underworld. This book provides a playful take on Greek myths replete with humor and puns.

Riordan, Rick.The Lightning Thief. Miramax, Hyperion. Gr. 5-8.
Twelve-year-old Percy gets kicked out of school and finds sanctuary in Camp Half-Blood, where he finds out that he is actually the son of Poseidon. Percy and two other camp participants, Annabeth (Athena’s daughter) and Grover (a satyr), are tasked to retrieve Zeus’s thunderbolt from Hades' residence in L.A., using whatever means possible.

Schlitz, Laura Amy.The Hero Schliemann: The Dreamer Who Dug for Troy. Candlewick, 2006. Gr. 5-8.
In this biography of Heinrich Schliemann, Schlitz delights in exposing Schliemann's unreliability as an archaeologist and excavator. However, she also acknowledges his find of Troy which elevated its status from myth to reality, although it was attributed more to luck than skill. Byrd's watercolor illustrations help to enhance Schlitz's storytelling.

Spinner, Stephanie.Quicksilver. Knopf, 2005. Gr. 7-12.
In Spinner's second novel that also deals with Greek mythology, the story of Hermes is told in first person and through several important myths. Throughout the story, it outlines Hermes’s constant need of approval from his father, as well as his gratefulness to his father for being able to reside on Olympus.

Spinner, Stephanie.Quiver. Knopf, 2002. Gr. 7-10.
Atalanta is saved from death as a baby by Artemis after being abandoned and in return, she makes a vow of chastity to the goddess. She grows to become a talented archer and the fastest runner in the land. Soon, her father King Iasus demands her return to marry and produce an heir. To keep her vow to Artemis and appease her father, Atalanta offers a compromise: to marry the man who bests her in a footrace; all who lose will be killed.

Stanley, Diane.The Trouble with Wishes. HarperCollins, 2007. Gr. 3-5.
This is a modern re-telling of the Pygmalion myth, where the young sculptor Pyg creates a statue so beautiful he falls in love with it and wishes for it to come alive. However, wishes come true are not necessarily ideal…

Tomlinson, Theresa.The Moon Riders. Eos/ HarperCollins, 2006. Gr. 6-9.
Myrina's world is an alternative Greek world where women take on active roles in society. Her story portrays the strength and courage of a woman who lives on despite having loved ones killed in the long drawn out Trojan War.

Trumble, Kelly.The Library of Alexandria. Clarion, 2003. Gr. 4-8.
The library at Alexandria was once the largest and most famous in the ancient world, and Trumble introduces this library from its conception to its ruin. Also included are some of the various people connected with the library, such as Aristarchus, Eratosthenes, Euclid and Herophilus. The importance of these characters is addressed in the different chapters of the book, which includes Astronomy, Geography and Mathematics.