- Age Range: 9 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 910L (What's this?)
- Series: Aesop Prize (Awards)
- Hardcover: 80 pages
- Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition, First Printing edition (April 11, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0763627828
- ISBN-13: 978-0763627829
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 0.5 x 11.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,120,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq (Aesop Prize (Awards)) Hardcover – April 11, 2006
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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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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 Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
The tale is well-told and the illustrations are lovely. This is not an anti-war story. The goal of the aggressors is to win quickly and increase the stature of their own city; this goal is not questioned, only tempered by the goddess's instructions not to destroy the city they are attacking. The main character is an independent and determined boy. He succeeds in helping to end the war by honoring his city's goddess and king, befriending a fearsome creature who gives him super-powers, and by bravery.
I'm not sure exactly what the appeal is, but our children enjoy this one a lot.
There once was a boy named Lugalbanda who lived with his seven brothers in the great city of Uruk. Uruk was ruled by King Enmerkar who had built it in honor of the goddess of love and war, Inana. One day, Enmerkar noticed that the faraway city of Aratta had far more impressive treasures and works of art than Uruk. Without further ado then, Enmerkar declared war on Aratta and set off to plunder its booty with his men. Amongst his men came the seven brothers and Lugalbanda. While en route to war, however, Lugalbanda became deathly ill and his brothers were forced to leave him with plenty of good food and drink in a warm cave, praying for his survival. After two days, Lugalbanda awoke and by appealing to the Sun God, the goddess Inana, and the Moon God, the boy was made strong enough to follow his brothers. The tale then recounts Lugalbanda's encounter with the great and terrible Anzu bird, how he got some pretty cool pre-biblical super powers, and the course Enmerkar's war eventually takes. In the end, Lugalbanda is king and his son becomes the great Gilgamesh of lore.
You might ask yourself how interesting a 5,000 year old story (that wasn't even translated until the 1970s) would be to kids today. In this way, Candlewick has been incredibly clever. The book is written with words of a rather large font and then filled to brimming with lush illustrations by Jane Ray. Themes of magic, war, and a boy befriending a great and terrible sky monster... well you might as well be describing the latest, "Chronicles of Droon" adventure. The difference is in the importance of the tale itself. Henderson's care in rendering this tale as accurately and interestingly as possible is to be commended. In the original text it isn't exactly clear if Lugalbanda is the son of King Enmerkar or is just referred to as a prince for another reason. There are lots of questions like that, all handled in an exceedingly deft manner. And as Henderson says of this tale in her "Notes On This Story" at the end of the book, "This was much too important to be left to the world of adults".
Don't go thinking that it was just Kathy Henderson who did all the research on this book, though. Artist Jane Ray studied up on her Sumerian artifacts with visits to the British Museum. This shows in the art. Done in watercolor, ink, and collage, the pictures in this book both reflect the art of the time period while also looking fresh and colorful enough to engage kids today. I was especially impressed with Ray's attention to close details. The baby Anzu bird that Lugalbanda feeds and decorates is spotted with a multitude of tiny flowers and you can make out every barb, calamus, and rachis on the bird's feathered body. It's nice to hold a book in your hands once in a while that can honestly be called beautiful.
Kudos, by the way, to the Sumerians who had the brains to come up with a goddess who was in charge of love AND war. That they could see the connection so directly makes me smile. The story told here about a war fought for the sake of plunder (though in an odd twist, the goddess won't let Enmerkar win until he promises only to take the art and artists and not destroy the town) is slightly odd. Especially when you consider that the hero is on the side of the aggressor. But the struggle for power in the Middle East is an ancient story and here we find the oldest telling of it yet. If you should wish to give this as a gift to a child, I suggest that you talk up the superpowers, battle scenes, and cool monsters as you hand it to them. Children aren't going to find the whole oldest-written-story thing all that cool. But a rainbow colored bird giant with, "the teeth of a shark"? Far better. A surprisingly great read and a wonderfully researched tale. A necessary purchase for all libraries everywhere.
Both timely and timeless, Lugalbanda is the oldest-known written story, predating even the epic of Gilgamesh. This is the story of Gilgamesh's father, Lugalbanda! The cuneiform tablets on which this Sumerian legend was inscribed were discovered in the 19th century, but not deciphered until the 1970's.
In this retelling of the 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 make this title a valuable nonfiction resource.
The book will partner very well with Ludmilla Zeman's 3-book set, Gilgamesh (1992).
Teachers/Librarians: 3rd grade to adult - social studies / humanities