From School Library Journal
Grade 3-8–Just in time for the Olympics comes this splendid introduction to Greece's most renowned monument. Curlee covers the mythic and historical backgrounds that led to the fifth-century construction of the temple to Athena. He also describes other components of the Acropolis, as well as relating the Elgin controversy and the effects of modern air pollution. His examination of the architectural details is particularly accurate and absorbing: he explicates all elements of the structure, its decoration, and the heroic statue it originally enclosed. The limpid, forthright prose matches artwork of similar clarity and elegant simplicity. The acrylic paintings balance areas of flat color with finely controlled line. Well-labeled plans of the Acropolis and the Parthenon, and examples of the classical Orders of Architecture, help youngsters to orient themselves. Most illustrations occupy a single page, but there are three stunning spreads, each extending almost 24 inches: a reconstructed view of the pristine Acropolis in elevation, the horse riders portion of the frieze, and the artist's re-creation of Phidias's gold-and-ivory statue. The visuals are dramatic enough to hold younger viewers, while the text will satisfy curious older readers. The violet, teal, and indigo skies are as good as a swim in the Aegean. This book offers a noble and informative tribute to the beauty and meaning of this ancient architectural hymn to human aspiration.–Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
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*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. Curlee, author-illustrator of Brooklyn Bridge
(2001), Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
(2002), and capital
(2003), returns to the ancient world to spotlight the Parthenon. The book's most memorable feature is Curlee's handsome acrylic paintings, including many full-page illustrations. Created with a restrained palette, the paintings are composed with an air of simplicity, harmony, and dignity that befits the book's subject. Though most aspects of the text are accessible to younger children, the discussion of the building's architecture and construction includes terminology that is unfamiliar to most young people, although these words, such as cella
, are clearly explained in context. There's a good introduction to Athenian history, and the discussion of the Parthenon's purpose, its proportions, its construction, and its slow destruction makes fascinating reading. Curlee also explains the controversy still raging over the "Elgin Marbles," taken from the Acropolis to London in 1812. A map, a floor plan, and a striking double-page representation of a statue of Athena add to the visual interest. The last page includes a brief source bibliography. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved