Tag Archive for retellings

Treasure Island Kickstarter

So . . . my adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island is written, edited, laid out, and ready for the printer. Now I wait.

Since I will have copies in hand later this fall, I’ve launched a Kickstarter project to help me with marketing. I’ll be working with a publicist, having cases of books sent out for review and traveling for book signings; all of which costs a pretty penny. So, I’m hoping to get a little support from you, my readers. Anything you pledge to my project will earn you incentives, so it’s not like you’re giving money away, but more like you’re purchasing merchandise through me.

If anything, go to my project page and check out the video. If it provides a laugh, I hope you’ll considering pledging for the cause.

Tanks (big green booming ones),

Review — Greek Mythology’s Adventures of Perseus

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

Treasure Island — cover color study

Screen Shot 2013-04-04 at 2.40.39 PM

Treasure Island — cover color study

Here’s a color study of the cover for my adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island. Elizabeth Hurley (not to be confused with the famous actress/model) is illustrating it. She also worked on the cover for my Perseus adaptation.

In the background floats the Hispaniola, with the Jolly Roger flying from her topmast. And in the foreground, Jim and Long John are being confronted by pirates. I can’t really say much more about this scene (or why I picked it) without giving away too much of the story. Let’s just say, it works perfectly with some of the choices the reader has to make.

The writing is almost done, and then the book will be released this fall. So stay tuned . . .

Treasure Island — cover sketch

cover sketch

Treasure Island — cover sketch

One of my current projects is a choose-your-path adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island. It’s the book that impressed upon us our modern ideas of what pirates were like—how they acted and spoke. It was also a childhood favorite of mine, and one of the first books I recall actually wanting to read. After all, Treasure Island is all about swashbuckling pirates and treasure, and what boy wouldn’t be excited about those things?

My adaptation, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, will be released this fall.

Here’s the initial cover sketch. Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver are about to be attacked! I don’t want to say much more, or give the story away, in case you haven’t read it yet.

Review — Greek Mythology’s Adventure’s of Perseus

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.
—Children’s Bookwatch

Review — Jack and the Beanstalk

Great retelling and cool artwork. It made the list of top 20 books preferred by struggling 4th and 5th grade readers. Renaissance Learning puts out a “What Kids Are Reading” study each year where—oddly enough—kids share the titles of the books they most enjoy reading. This book made the 2011 list. And for good reason.
—Robert Marsh, author of the Monster and Me series

Review — Perseus and Medusa

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!
—Barrow Books

Review — Perseus and Medusa

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.

Review — Perseus and Medusa

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

Review — Perseus and Medusa

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