From School Library Journal
Grade 4 Up-Both timely and timeless, Lugalbanda
is the oldest-known written story, predating even the epic of Gilgamesh (who may be Lugalbanda's son). The cuneiform tablets on which this Sumerian legend was inscribed were discovered during 19th-century excavations, but not deciphered until the 1970s. Henderson's vivid, yet stately words and Ray's Sumerian-inspired watercolor, ink, and collage illustrations bring immediacy to this story of a boy caught up in wartime. Lugalbanda's courage, native kindness, and prescience contributed to his heroism. Grievously ill, he is left behind in the wilderness while his brothers' army marches to war. Upon his recovery, Lugalbanda tames the fearsome Anzu bird with its teeth of a shark and talons of an eagle and persuades the monster to grant him supernatural strength and speed. In return, the prince promises that his people will venerate the Anzu bird in perpetuity. With the publication of this beautiful, fascinating book, modern readers can come to appreciate a compelling narrative from a civilization about which we are still learning.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
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Gr. 2-4. In this retelling of an ancient Sumerian tale, young prince Lugalbanda is determined to join his brother in battle, but he collapses during the arduous journey. From generous gods and goddesses, he acquires the strength and magical powers that allow him to help bring a peaceful resolution to war. In fascinating notes, Henderson introduces the tale as one of the oldest stories known to humankind, and she describes how she pieced together her retelling from translations of clay tablets recovered from present-day Iraq. The adventure story and the luminous, beautifully detailed watercolors of young men and gods will easily capture today's children. The background facts about the Sumerians, who are credited with the invention of written language, also makes this title a valuable nonfiction resource. The book will partner nicely with The House of Wisdom
(1999), by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland, which also presents a view of an ancient, wholly sophisticated Iraqi civilization. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved