Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Great Words from the Gods

Gifts from the Gods, by Lise Lunge-Larsen and illustrated by Gareth Hinds, is a fabulous new book about which I learned at a recent Cambridge Public Library symposium sponsored by Children's Literature New England.

A review in the New York Times stated: Gifts From the Gods, "an inventive blend of glossary and anthology, provides a fine introduction to one of the Greeks’ enduring legacies: their impact on the English language." And indeed we do get to learn, in an immensely enjoyable way, the story behind expressions like "Achilles' heel" and words like "fate" and "janitor" (related to the god Janus -- you'll need to explore further to know why!).

Yes, there has been a clear upsurge of interest in Greek mythology due to Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books (The Lightning Thief is the first of the series). Time-honored classics such as the D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths have enjoyed a steady readership through the years, and it's a pleasure to add another great collection to the mix: Donna Jo Napoli's Treasure of Greek Mythology. Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey are favorites for reading aloud -- or listening to in audiobook format. Any one of these may inspire you to plan your own literary odyssey!