Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

by Lady Hestia Evans and Dugard Steer

Last December, I reviewed several titles from the Ologies series, including Dragonology, Egyptology and Illusionology. Since it's Christmas time, and I have young nephews, I found myself again contemplating these gorgeous picture books. The boys are still too young for Ologies, but since 2013 marks the ten year anniversary of the series, I think I'll spend this week exploring more Ologies volumes.

Previous “Ologies” book reviews can be read here.

Mythology was a title I expected to see almost as soon as I realized that Dragonology and Egyptology were the start of a series, and not merely one-off titles. Mythology, a 19th century textbook written by Lady Hestia Evans, introduces readers to the Greek and Roman myths of gods and heroes. The textbook was designed so that enterprising students could take many notes in the page margins, and one reader, named John Oro, did just that. As the pages catalog the deities, monsters, and heroes of the ancient world, a secondary story is told in the margins, as John Oro journals his expedition through Greece on a quest for treasure while using the textbook as his guide. But Oro discovers more than merely vases and ancient coins as he visits the old temples of the gods...

This is a great introduction to the myths. There are many illustrations, ranging from simple pen sketches to lush watercolors and reproductions of original Greek and Roman works of art. Each page spread introduces something new, like the origins of the Titans and Olympians, or the powers and personalities of the major gods and goddesses. Some tales have been sanitized for a younger audience. For example, the paragraph about Zeus closes with these words: “Although most myths say that Zeus was the husband of Hera, he also had other marriages...Although Zeus always married Hera again afterwards, she usually had some reason to be angry with her husband.” Certainly, Zeus had many affairs with many women, but I'm quite sure Hera was his only wife. But as this is a book written in 1825 for a young audience, a proper woman like Lady Hestia no doubt felt the need to fudge the old tales a bit.

The fictional Lady Hestia Evans is no doubt meant to be a descendent or relation of real-life archaeologists John and Arthur Evans. Sir John was a trustee of the British Museum while his son Arthur excavated at Knossos and “discovered” Minoan civilization. It's a cute wink to the readers, as is the name John Oro – those familiar with mythology may well guess the man's fate before it is revealed at the end of the book based on the clue in his surname.

Like all Ologies books, there are many interactive panels and mini-booklets scattered throughout the book. In one pocket there are paper “oracle leaves” for communication with the gods, while in the other “knowledge cards” help readers test each other with trivia about the Olympian gods. A specimen of “golden fleece” is found on a page that discusses the mythological beasts like sphinxes and dragons. There's even a highly condensed version of The Odyssey to introduce children to the adventures of Odysseus.

I found it a little strange that Lord Byron is mentioned several times in the book's margins and in some of the extra notes. Sure, he's an interesting historical figure, but nothing really ties him to the main body of the text on mythology, or even to John Oro's side adventure save that Byron's death in Greece was fairly recent at the time of Oro's travels. But overall this was a minor distraction from another fine addition to the Ologies line.

4 out of 5 stars

To read more about Mythology, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.

Peeking into the archives...today in:
2012: News: New Christian Andersen Fairy Tale Found!
2011: Fashionista Piranha Book Blog on hold for a few weeks!
2010: Closing down for end of year Festivus...
2009: The Emperors of Chocolate by Joel Glenn Brenner
2008: Guardian by Julius Lester


Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow