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The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus (Trophy Picture Books) Paperback – January 31, 1997


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The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus (Trophy Picture Books) + D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths + Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite her vibrant art and her valiant attempt to simplify her material, Aliki's (A Medieval Feast; My Visit to the Aquarium) whirlwind tour of Olympus doesn't manage to untangle the labyrinthine legends of the mythical past. Her book falls into two sections, the first breezing through traditional Greco-Roman theogony. Some of her truncated accounts may mystify the target audience: "Cronus married his sister Rhea, and they had many children. But Cronus was afraid that one of them might overthrow him just as he had overthrown his father. So as each child was born he swallowed it." By the time Cronus regurgitates his offspring, who join with Zeus to rule the universe, Aliki moves on to a series of page-long profiles of various deities. The two halves of the book just don't hang together. On the other hand, the art, which is generously interspersed with the text, provides consistency. Bountiful details adapted from Greek vase paintings and sculpture fill Aliki's stylized pencil drawings. Washes of gouache paints and colored pencils imbue the compositions with a distinctly Mediterranean sunniness. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 2-4, younger for reading aloud. This large-format book provides a quick, brightly illustrated introduction to the ancient Greek gods and goddesses. Beginning with Gaea, Uranus, and the Titans, Aliki chronicles the rise and fall of Cronus and the defeat of the Titans by the new gods (Zeus and company), whom she introduces individually. The latter section, which comprises two-thirds of the book, will prove useful in libraries as a clear, simple overview of the more familiar gods and goddesses. The artwork varies in quality from the well-imagined scenes showing Gaea growing out of "a dark space named Chaos" to the awkward and slightly comical look of the scenes in which Cronus swallows his children and disgorges them. A Greek dramatist might have advised that those actions should take place offstage, to be reported by the players. While not a source for storytellers, this will prove useful in libraries with a demand for basic information on the gods and goddesses at the primary-grade level. Carolyn Phelan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 5
  • Series: Trophy Picture Books
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (January 31, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064461890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064461894
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aliki is the author and illustrator of more than fifty books for children that are treasured by readers all over the world. Her many well-loved titles include My Visit to the Zoo, My Visit to the Aquarium, My Visit to the Dinosaurs, Wild and Woolly Mammoths, Tabby, and Those Summers. Aliki lives near the Globe theater, in London, England.

In Her Own Words..."Aliki grew up in Philadelphia in a big Greek family where everyone was busy creating and sharing their activities. She knew from the time she was in kindergarten that she wanted to bean artist, although music was also a natural talent. She was encouraged throughout her early life by her parents and by teachers she will never forget."She graduated from the Philadelphia Collegeof Art and started a career in advertising art. After she married Franz Brandenberg, Aliki continued her career in his country, Switzerland, where they lived for three years. It was there that she wrote and illustrated her first book, The Story of William Tell, which was published in England. When they moved to New York, Aliki wrote and illustrated My Five Senses--the book that changed the direction of her career and her life.

Although she had never thought of being a writer, Aliki has been making books ever since. Children's books, she says, are a combination of two things I love: words and pictures. I also love the privacy of books--both reading them and making them. Aliki writes fiction, in which she can express her feelings, and nonfiction research books about subjects she's interested in and wants to know more about. Each book is a new challenge; each is different, she says. The subject directs the way I illustrate a book, the same way friends bring out different parts of us. The challenge is to get the words right and then to make pictures that expand and enhance their meaning.""Besides her own books, Aliki has illustrated many written by Franz Brandenberg and other authors. Her two children are also in the arts. Jason is a filmmaker and Alexa is a children's book author-illustrator. They appear in almost all of her books as cats, mice, or themselves.

Aliki loves music, theater, cinema, museums, children, her cat, Nefertiti, and working in her garden in London, where she lives. She travels frequently to the U.S., Greece, Switzerland, and other parts of the world, though most of the time she is alone in her studio with the books she is working on--and Mozart."

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
My 6-yr old neice absolutely loves this book. We had checked it out of the library and now I am purchasing it for her. This serves as a very good introduction to Greek mythology for young kids. It is clearly written and provides interesting vocabulary (that sometimes needs explanation). Our absolute favorite thing about the book is the illustration. The images are beautiful, fanciful, and inspire a person to dream! My neice has a hard time visually what words mean; she likes how there's a large portrait of the god or goddess, then scattered around him or her are little vignettes in pictures illustrating some major events in their lives. She can "read" this book herself and recall the stories. The images truly stick in one's mind.
I've looked at a dozen kids mythology books. Start them out with this one. If they are a bit older and dig mythology, get this for them anyhow. It will help refresh their memory.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Natal Guzman on November 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is by the far the best book I have foud that explains the creation according to the Greeks. I have used it in my high school classroom as well as my junior high and it is always a hit. This book contains the origins of the universe starting with mother earth (Gaea) and father sky (Uranos), the birth and the reign of the Titans and the reing of the Olympians Gods when they took over the earth. It aslo gives a great and thorough introduction of each of the 14 Olympian gods that reign upon Olympus. The pictures are amazing. The whole book is a work of art!
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By "bigl545" on July 30, 2001
Format: Paperback
The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus is an interesting book. This book explains the origin of the gods and goddesses of Olympus. After reading this book a couple of times you will gain basic knowledge of the Greek gods and goddesses and how they evolved.
Aliki provides excellent illustrations that allow the story to be vividly portrayed. The illustrations relate well with the text and help the reader create a better understanding for the text. Her illustrations are drawn in pencil, then inked and colored with paints and colored pencils.
This book is at about a fifth grade reading level. However, the contents of this book are intended for an older, more mature audience, which leads to some concerns with using the book in the classroom. There are many moral issues in the book, as well as gruesome concepts throughout the book. For example, the ideas of incest are mentioned repeatedly, along with murder. These concepts may be rather difficult to explain to your students within your classroom.
Students who are interested in Greek gods and goddesses would really enjoy this book. However, in order for students to understand this book they need to be at a high independent reading level. The book can get rather confusing the first time around.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence M. Sanger on August 20, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very useful book. It is hard to find books about ancient Greek myths that are appropriate for the very young set, but this one works. It works especially well as a preparation for reading Heather Amery's Greek Myths for Young Children (Stories for Young Children). Both of these books are easier than D'Aulaire's, which is more like the 5th or 6th grade level, and certainly easier than the classic Edith Hamilton Mythology, which is more appropriate for teens and adults.

The nice thing about Aliki's book is that it introduces the Olympians in a fairly simple and attractive format. There aren't many books that do that. Each god gets a couple pages with a big attractive picture. (Well, your mileage may vary on the pictures, but I found them helpful, anyway, though occasionally confusing--I had to explain to my little boy which part of the story referred to which part of a big picture.)

The text itself is fine. Engaging enough, but not really special; not worth five stars.

The opening pages, covering the creation of the world, the Titans, and the war between the Olympians and the Titans, is very well done. I skipped entirely over the bits where Cronus was shown devouring his children a la the famous Goya painting (well, not as bloody, but too graphic for little kids, for my taste).

I think publishers ought to get on the stick and create a series of well-illustrated, well-told, somewhat softened versions of the ancient Greek myths, for the 1st-3rd grade level. They would sell like hotcakes.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Robin Lapre on March 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book - geared for children but enjoyable for any age. The book uses straightforward language, so that the reader and listener will not get overwhelmed by complex or archaic terminology. The artwork is just beautiful and will keep the young audience engaged while listening. The book is quite systematic, starting with Gaea and showing the lineages of the Gods, the Titans, etc. By the end of the book, you can look at the last page and identify the 12 Gods who sat on Olympus and a few others to boot. Even adults who have some knowledge of Greek Mythology will appreciate its orderly presentation and the book will help you understand the relationships between the Gods. My only criticism is that pronunciation keys were not provided. This would really help a novice like me (and most children) so as not to butcher their beautiful greek names. Otherwise, I have no criticism at all.
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The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus (Trophy Picture Books)
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