Gifts From the Gods
Houghton Mifflin, $19, 96 pages, ages 8 and up
Treasury of Greek Mythology
Donna Jo Napoli
National Geographic, $25, 192 pages, ages 10 and up
How many of us know the origin of words such as "panic," "museum," "chaos" or "janitor"? What about "mortal," "insomnia" or "fortune"?
Lise Lunge-Larsen gives them all and more to us in her word lover's collection of classic myths, "Gifts From the Gods."
Her subhead just about says it all: "Ancient Words & Wisdom From Greek & Roman Mythology."
By retelling more than 30 myths, Lunge-Larsen shows word origins. Each tale is a short chapter that begins with a quote using the word in young-adult literature. Following the myth, she elaborates on the word's use and its variations.
Her smooth, entertaining presentation of each myth makes it and its word easy to remember.
Consider the word "panic," which originated with the Greek myth about Pan, the god of flocks and shepherds. A happy-go-lucky fellow, his looks horns on his head and goat legs frighten the nymphs and leave him lonely.
To cheer himself up, he resorts to mischief. He especially likes to spring from hiding and scare travelers, who flee in panic.
Artist Gareth Hinds elaborately illustrates the myths with pencil and watercolors. Every page is rich in color and authentic details of the ancient times.
This substantial, attractive picture book will appeal to many generations.
With a modern openness in tone and a scholar's approach to detail, author Donna Jo Napoli gives readers a grand volume in "Treasury of Greek Mythology."
Beginning with the creation of Earth, she ranges from the glory of heroes to the horrors of monsters.
In addition to the 25 myths, Napoli includes a map of Greece, a time line, an illustrated list of characters with their Greek and Roman names, a bibliography and an index.
Gorgeous, bold illustrations by Christina Balit energize nearly every page. This is a gift and a keeper for the whole family.
Just As Good
How Larry Doby Changed America's Game
Candlewick, $17, 32 pages, ages 6 and up
Author Chris Crowe hits a home run with his compassionate story about the first African American baseball player in the American League. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers, a National League team.
Crowe tells his tale through the eyes of Homer, an African American kid who's turned away by a Little League coach. White people were saying in 1948 that Robinson was a fluke. Doby was Homer's hope that they were wrong.
That year Doby helped his team reach the World Series. Homer and his dad listen to games on the radio in their kitchen. Crowe's details and emotional accounts vibrate with excitement and hope.
Mike Benny's illustrations are somewhat dark, but they capture Crowe's story of a pivotal moment in baseball history.