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An irresistible treasure and a very special look at the stories and figures of ancient and indigenous mythology,
This review is from: Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes Pop-Up (Hardcover)
The myths of the ancient world hold much fascination for readers of all ages. Children especially seem drawn to tales of the Olympian deities, Viking legends and Mediterranean heroes. Couple this interest with the fantastic engineered paper books by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda, and you have a book kids can truly experience. In Encyclopedia Mythologica's GODS AND HEROES, the bestselling duo teams up again for a three-dimensional exploration of the tales of the ancient world.
The book starts in Egypt, and opening to the first page releases a large pop-up of the falcon-headed god Horus, son of Isis and Osiris and the god associated with the ancient pharaohs. A smaller page on this double-page spread tells Horus's story with several moving parts (look behind that for Imhotep's pyramid). Next it's off to Greece, where the castle of Mt. Olympus springs forth as does the legendary city of Atlantis and the figures of several Greek goddesses. The section on the "Kingdoms of the Mighty North" features a fierce Viking and a glimpse of Freyja as she leads her Valkyries into battle and a lovely pop-up illustration of the mythical cosmic ash tree called Yggdrasil.
Unlike so many children's books introducing mythology, GODS AND HEROES doesn't stop at Europe and Egypt but takes readers farther east to Asia and Oceania and to the Americas as well. Spider Woman, from Native American mythology, holds a web made of silvery thread, adding an interesting new textural element to the book. Refreshingly, Reinhart and Sabuda also give female deities and figures equal attention, like the violent Polynesian volcano goddess Pele, who seems to be spewing and flowing out of the volcano in the center of the page.
The text is both exciting and easy to understand; the Norse god Odin is introduced as the "grizzled lord of wisdom and magic." We are told that in the Iroquois story of the Celestial Woman, after falling from her home in the sky, "gazing up from below, a giant turtle took pity and softened her landing, while other beasts offered protection." The writing is just as illuminating, informative and enchanting as the visuals!
While young readers may be initially drawn to the amazing Viking ship and colorful Aztec-plumed serpent Quetzalcoatl, there are even more amazing delights hidden in the book. The story of Japanese folk hero Momotaro is secreted behind another pop-up panel, and a peach opens to reveal the tiny infant. This whimsical scene is one of the best in the book, and in just a few sentences readers will be intrigued by the charming tale.
As with other marvelous Reinhart and Sabuda books, this one may be easily damaged by little hands. Special care needs to be taken in turning pages or putting scenes back into folded place. But the construction is sturdier than you might think, and even if torn and worn over time, GODS AND HEROES is an irresistible treasure and a very special look at the stories and figures of ancient and indigenous mythology.