Thursday, December 23, 2010


By Chris Wilson

Gather round children and hark the tales of the goddess Athena spun by the sisters three known as the Moirae. The Fates, as they are otherwise known, sit and weave the tapestry of all lives and narrate the highlights of the goddess’ existence: Athena’s tumultuous origin story; how she came to take the name Pallas and obtained Zeus’ aegis, forevermore using reason over emotion; her epic battle with the Gigantes; Athena’s punishment of Medusa after the priestess’ desecration of the Athenian temple and then Perseus’ gift of the gorgon’s head to Athena; and finally Athena’s weaving competition with Arachne and the ensuring wrath over the mortal’s insolence.

Continuity is such a beautiful thing for a reader and I give copious amounts of kudos to publisher First Second for ensuring that writer/illustrator George O’Connor stayed on for this second book in the Olympians series.

It makes a difference.

In my review of the first of the Olympian series, ZEUS: KING OF THE GODS, I commented that O’Connor left me with many unanswered questions, making me want to read and know more; I am sure students will be the same. As I’d hoped and predicted, O’Connor continues the stories and answers some –– but not all –– of my questions. Finally, we can find out what happened to Metis. It does not bode well for Metis, unfortunately, but it is not a fact that should come to a surprise to anyone who knows Zeus. He did overthrow his own father after all.

The narration in this story is different from the Zeus story. ATHENA: GREY-EYED GODDESS is comprised of several stories of the goddess with identified narrators, but this fact does not detract from the series continuity. The approach makes the stories connected but varied so as to give each god or goddess his or her due.

As before, O’Connor gives the reader insight into the process of adapting the stories into comic format. He addresses the age of the stories, the conflicting accounts and his reasons for his approach. He also provides interesting endnotes categorized by page and panel. I love it: the maps, the essay, the endnotes, the character sheets, and the story. I just love the whole dang thing. It is Greek myth done very well.

O’Connor art is so distinct and unique it would be easy to see a page of his work and identify it as his without any trouble. It is attractive. His characters are moderately detailed while his backgrounds are sparse. His color work is reminiscent of the comics of yesteryear. His art approach highlights the characters in such a way as to guide the reader’s eye and mind toward them and not the backgrounds and keeps the reader from being distracted or confused by too much detail.

Chris’ Rating: Ages 9 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 9-14

It’s Greek myth and that means there are battles and births and gods.

For upper elementary or middle school kids interested in Greek myth, this series is excellent. For high school students, the Olympians series would be a nice companion. Themes of the number three, treachery and trickery, the struggle for power, and the use of myth as the cautionary tale are all easily identifiable.

A teacher’s guide (pdf) is available from the publisher’s website. It offers book-specific questions (by page and panel) as well as bigger questions based on the entire series.

Author & Illustrator: George O’Connor
Publisher: First Second
Genre: Greek Myth

Format: Paperback (hardback available)
Volume: Olympians series volume 2
Pages: 80
Color: Full color
ISBN-13: 978-1-59643-432-5

Highly Recommended

No comments: