Review: The Adventures of Odysseus

POSTED: October 9, 2012

The Adventures of Odysseus. Barefoot Books

Another beautiful book by Barefoot Books! If you have a Percy Jackson fan or a young story lover at home, look no further. The re-tellings of the Odyssey by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden, illustrated by Christina Barlit is a real treat, both to read and to look at. I received this paperback last winter from Barefoot Books as they knew I had a daughter interested in adventure books. She was only 8 then, fully immersed in the Ivy & Bean series and unfortunately didn’t get hooked on the book at first. Fine, I thought, there’s no hurry. I put the book back on my shelves and waited for the right moment. This summer she read the Percy Jackson books. She read them once. Twice. At the 3rd re-read I said “Stop! Read this instead.” I gave her The Adventures of Odysseus.

“I already tried and I didn’t like it,” she argued. “See if you like it now,” I suggested. She picked up the book and looked bored but fortunately we were about to board a train and she was stuck in her seat for an hour. Throughout the train ride I watched her avidly turning pages, admiring the illustrations and making her way through the story. Sometimes she would comment, pulling details from the Greek mythology she knew to discuss on the story she was reading. When we arrived at destination she handed me the book back. She’s read the full 127 pages in just an hour. “Did you like it?” I asked. She loved it.

Not only that but her little sister – who’s 7 years old – asked for the book as well. Instead of reading it herself, she asked me to read it to her as we got on the London tube. The tube is loud, I didn’t want to shout the story to a train full of strangers so I whispered it in her ear. Reading a book aloud you really appreciate the way sentences sound, the internal rhythm, the choice of words and the flow of the story. I expected The Adventures of Odysseus to be too challenging for my little 7-year old but it wasn’t. It was well-written but not overwhelming. She listened, tilting her head ever so slightly so she would hear every single word. I could tell by the way her eyes moved that she was reading the words too.

That was smart because  some of the names can be tricky to understand for someone who’s new to Greek mythology like her. Princess Nausicaa, the Scaean gates of the city of Troy, Agamemnon and Telemachus – those are hard words for young ears but they ring of adventurous feats and great warriors of old.

Then as we read through the story we came to appreciate the gorgeous Art Deco-style illustrations that lent to the story a timeless dimension. When the read was over I read the biography of the authors. Both Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden are renowned storytellers. Everything fell into place. That explained why the read-aloud was such a pleasure.

I’m never disappointed by Barefoot Books but I hadn’t delved into their books for older readers yet. This was fantastic and I’m looking forward to discovering their other titles. Plus, the small format makes it ideal to pack along for a short trip. Highly recommended.

Rating: 5 stars

Recommended age:

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