Everyone who knows me knows that I’m a mythical nut, as in I dig mythology, seen Clash of the Titans (about 100 times), read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson’s books, and plan to go to Greece one day to see all of the ancient ruins. So it will come as no surprise that I have two new books based on mythic heroes: Jason and Odysseus, and their famous quests. They are also in the choose-your-path format. Readers get to imagine that they are on an epic adventure battling fearsome monsters.
Jason, the Argonauts, and the Golden Fleece—You are the mighty Greek hero Jason. Along with your crew of Argonauts, you are setting sail in search of the Golden Fleece. But your journey will not be easy. Sea monsters, powerful witches, and deadly beasts stand in your way. Can you survive and bring the Golden Fleece back to your kingdom?
The Epic Adventures of Odysseus—You are the mighty Greek hero Odysseus. The Trojan War has made you a hero. But now you must return home to your island of Ithaca. The journey back will not be easy. Deadly sea monsters, cunning witches, and a giant Cyclops stand in your way. Do you have what it takes to survive and make it back home?
My love of Greek and Roman myths probably started with the classics. And when I say classics, I don’t mean The Illiad or Metamorphosis. I’m referring to Clash of the Titans (1981) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963). These movies may have had cheesy claymation monsters, but they were my introduction to mythology. Watching them spurred me on to learn more about myths, to the point where mythology is now one of my favorite subjects to write about.
Now pair some of the classics (and this time I mean books like The Odyssey and Argonautica) with my favorite format: graphic novels, to tell a story, and we have four of my newest books.
The 12 Labors of Hercules—Hercules seeks forgiveness after committing a horrific crime and is told to perform 12 nearly impossible tasks, from slaying the Hydra to capturing Cerberus, a three-headed dog.
Jason and the Argonauts—To reclaim his father’s throne, Jason goes on a quest to retrieve the magical golden fleece, which is guarded by a fearsome dragon that never sleeps.
Theseus and the Minotaur—Theseus seeks to end the tributes Athens is paying to the kingdom of Crete, and to so, he must first face the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster.
The Voyages of Odysseus—Chronicles Odysseus’ ten-year voyage home, to Ithaca, after the Trojan War and his many adventures, from blinding the Cyclops to meeting the the witch Circe.
In Everything Mythology, Blake Hoena and Adrienne Mayor introduce readers to a colorful and fearful world that is not entirely foreign. This book is filled with stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes, Monsters, revenge, love, hate, trickery and so much more. As readers and listeners journey into the world of Mythology they will quickly find characters they are familiar with in today’s world—including super heroes, wizards, princesses and characters from some favorite books. Short stories and facts are accompanied by vibrant illustrations that will engage readers. Hoena and Mayor include a map to help readers place the stories in a geographical context. This book is a great steppingstone into mythology for young readers. Each mythical story builds upon the next and soon readers will understand where terms like “Pandora’s box” and “Achilles’ heel” come from. Hoena and Mayor did an effective job at keeping the facts and stories short and understandable. All these elements lend to an educated introduction to Mythology. This book is highly recommended for use by parents with young readers who want to know the backstories of their favorite modern day heroes.
With more than 100 full-color illustrations these titles are visual treats, while providing a good deal of content. Each features four main sections with two-page chapters within those sections concentrating on specific topics. Within “Dinosaur Life,” for instance, readers will find spreads on the “Dino Nursery,” “Growing Up Dinosaur,” “Chomp or Be Chomped,” and “The Plant Eaters.” The layouts include headlines, text boxes, illustrations, and quick facts. Mythology even offers an Olympus Family Tree and isn’t limited to the gods of the Greek pantheon. Anansi, Horus, and Ganesha are all at home in these pages. The books are not only easy to read and understand, they’re also fun. Each volume includes a glossary (with an accompanying quiz to increase comprehension) and sources for more information (books, websites). Good purchases where these subjects are much in demand.
—School Library Journal
With the reader as the main character, Greek Mythology’s Adventures of Perseus by Blake Hoena follows the tradition of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books so popular with middle grade readers in the 1980s and 1990s. Perseus belongs to a series called “Can You Survive?” that repurposes the concept of the reader making choices by placing the stories in the context of the classics.
In this case the reader gets to become Perseus, the first hero in Greek mythology and the basis for all superheroes in the modern era (according to Hoena’s author’s note in the book.) As Perseus the reader will encounter all of the key people in the hero’s story and get to make choices that will eventually lead Perseus to kill Medusa, the snake-headed monster who turns people into stone with a single look. In order to introduce the concept of Greek mythology to the reader, Hoena begins in the present day and uses a library as the opening setting of the book.
Hoena manages to give readers all of the key events in Perseus’ life and also finds enough wiggle room within those events to allow readers choices. True to the original “Choose Your Own Adventure” format, readers won’t read the pages in chronological order but will follow the story back and forth throughout the book depending on the choices made. The constraints of a well-known story give the reader a framework; make enough of the wrong choices, and readers will end up on Page 67 with the finality of “The End, Try Again” forcing them to retrace steps and try to figure out how to succeed in the adventure.
Given the plethora of books competing for the attention of readers today (in addition to all the technology available,) middle grade readers may not ever receive conventional exposure to the Greek classics. Hoena’s book offers an alternative to teach readers something without them truly realizing it, another purpose of the original series. With simple language that doesn’t waste words, Hoena offers enough adventure, mystery, and intrigue to keep readers engaged. They’ll want to return to the book to see if they can fulfill Perseus’ quest.
A bonus feature of the book incorporates present-day technology; readers can go online to the publisher’s website and discuss how many times they “died” in the book before succeeding. This integrative concept may encourage readers to try the other books available in the “Can You Survive?” series, which includes adventures based on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
I recommend this book for middle grade readers and look forward to more in the series in the future.
—The Write Edge Bookshelf
Greek mythology is filled with tricky creatures with ill intent. Greek Mythology’s Adventures of Perseus is a choose-your-own-adventure book from Blake Hoena who presents an adventure of survival for young readers as they are faced with the nasty creatures of Greek mythology and what they can to survive and finish their arduous quest. Greek Mythology’s Adventures of Perseus is a choice pick for those seeking interactive fiction.
Best of all it’s a graphic novel!
Anyone who likes mythology should read this book – young OR old! But, I don’t think it would be appropriate for kids younger than first grade because of the violence and the myths may be confusing to those who do not know about mythological gods. I like almost everything about this graphic novel. The inking is so detailed you can almost see the texture. Most panels are rectangle, but sometimes a character will escape into another panel. To show force the illustrator hits the scene or object with a yellow spark.
In this graphic novel a women and her baby named Perseus are cast off to sea because Perseus was destined to kill his grandfather, King Acrisius .Zeus, the king of the gods was Perseus’ father. Zeus guided Perseus and his mom with powerful winds. Weeks later someone caught them with a fishing net. Many years later, when Perseus was about twenty years old there was a party for King Polydects. Perseus did not have anything to give him so he was sent to retrieve Medusa’s head. Perseus accepted the challenge. When Perseus was about fifteen away from the palace a women appeared.”who are you?”. The women said she was Athena – Goddess of wisdom and told him to find the Nymphs of the North. Perseus immediately set on to find the nymphs. Suddenly, the dense forest gave way to a beautiful gully with three nymphs waiting. One nymph said “Perseus, we three have been waiting for you.” They gave him a pair of winged sandals that would fly them to Medusa’s lair, a helmet that would grant him invisibility; Medusa’s head could petrify even in death, and a magic bag that could carry her head safely. As he exited the cave in the gully, Hermes, the winged messenger god flew down from the heavens. He had the weapons Perseus needed for his quest. Weapons fit for a true hero. Athena’s shield called the Aegis, and his own sword that could Pierce her thick skin. Hermes gave them to Perseus. Hermes told Perseus to visit the gray witches. They lived at the feet of Atlas the giant. But that they were the sisters of Medusa. Perseus would have to trick them to find the location of Medusa’s lair. How does Perseus trick Medusa’s sisters and does this hero ever come back alive with Medusa’s head? Will there be a love interest involved at all? Read this graphic novel to find out and what happens to Perseus!
This full-color graphic novel is an adaptation of the Greek myth of the hero half-god Perseus. A king demands that Perseus retrieve Medusa’s head. Thus the first trial of this hero begins. The goddess Athena helps him along the way. The graphic novel details his assistance from the nymphs and Hermes, Perseus’ trickery with the Gray Witches to gain Medusa’s address, and his ultimate fight with Medusa. His trip home fulfills a destiny that had been decreed before his birth—his grandfather dying by Perseus’ own hand. Information about monsters in the myths, discussion questions and writing prompts are also included. As one of the four hero myth tales being retold by Stone Arch’s Graphic Revolve series, this adaptation succeeds fairly well. The story does not feel shortened drastically at any given point. The pacing flows nicely from one part of the adventure to the next. As with the others in the series, the text is written at a third grade level encouraging a wider audience for this title. The artwork has many memorable panels; in particular, Medusa’s stone garden was both horrific and wonderfully detailed. The character designs would be at home in a role playing fantasy video game. Upper elementary and junior high readers who enjoy mythology or the recent Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will eagerly grab this graphic novel.
Young Perseus grows up unaware of his royal birth. Before he can claim his heritage, the hero is ordered to slay a hideous monster named Medusa, whose gaze turns men into solid stone. How can he fight an enemy he cannot even look at? Review: A great retelling of the famous myth in graphic novel format. This is a Stone Arch publication so it has all the extra goodies teachers and librarians want to see at the back as well – more about the myth, discussion questions, writing prompts, and a glossary! Definitely a fun story for kids to read about and a great way to learn about mythology. And did I mention it was a graphic novel? *loves graphic novels* Recommended for 3rd grade and up.
—Bookworming in the 21st Century
This retelling of the famous Greek myth is quite complete in its details including parts of the story not always included in children’s versions such as the Gorgons which frequently get dropped. But I was most impressed with the inclusion of the sidestory of Perseus’s return journey home including his saving of Andromeda before he returns to court with the head of Medusa. A very true retelling, keeping it suitable for children. There is a bit of violence, Medusa does get her head chopped off after all, and with that a few drops of blood are shown here and there over a few pages. Nothing I wouldn’t deem suitable for an 8yo of my own. The illustrations are gorgeous! I always say this when I review a Stone Arch book but they always use top-notch artists for their books. Perez has worked for Marvel and Dark Horse comics and his illustrations beautifully bring the story alive. A must read for mythology fans!
—Back to Books