The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greeks Myths, Retold by Cynthia Rylant, Carson Ellis

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Newbery Medal-winner Cynthia Rylant retells her favorite stories from Greek mythology, breathing fresh life into the tales of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus, and Psyche. The writing is lyrical and understated, a perfect tone for stories that introduce young readers to themes of love and loss, pride and forgiveness. Carson Ellis's elegant black-and-white illustrations lend an aura of beauty and mystery.

"Rylant's clear explanations of relationships between gods and mortals as well as the underlying motivations and significance of each myth avoid condescension without sacrificing the details, richness and conventions of the original stories. Ellis's formal black-and-white drawings are reminiscent of stylized classical Greek art and illustrate a dramatic moment from each myth. The small, square format completes this accessible and classy introduction to Greek mythology."-- Kirkus Reviews

"Rylant offers simplified, accessible versions of the myths and curtails their more troubled meanings. Ellis's soft pencil drawings bedeck this elegant-looking little book with visions of flowers, garlands, and comely maidens."-- Horn Book

". . . hones six myths into clear, accessible stories for younger readers. Plainspoken and captivating, they draw readers into the sagas . . . The stories grab attention with intriguing introductions . . . Ellis, illustrator of the Mysterious Benedict Society books, employs delicate pencil drawings to render the characters amid the organic: flowers, fruit, leaves and twisting vines. The small format reflects the book's purpose: to be a pleasurable sampling of some well-known Greek myths, their ideas and morals distilled to their core."-- Publishers Weekly

"The collection is fashioned to relate tales of love, pride, struggle, and triumph; Rylant has chosen a good complement of myths to retell, sticking to the standard versions of each one. Accompanied by full-page black-and-white illustrations and sprinkled with decorations, the whole package is nicely done. Readers who enjoy a good romance or just a well-told tale will be satisfied with this small book, and those looking for material for reports will find the necessary elements within. Collections needing fresh additions to their mythology section should consider this one."-- School Library Journal

"There is fluidity in the telling . . . a useful contrast to more irreverent or raucous retellings, especially in a setting where the focus is on the message more than the cultural significance."-- The Bulletin

CYNTHIA RYLANT is the acclaimed author of more than one hundred books for children and teens, and her novel Missing May was awarded the Newbery Medal. She lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

CARSON ELLIS illustrated the children's novel The Mysterious Benedict Society, a New York Times Book Review bestseller. She's also known for creating the artwork on the album covers for the rock band the Decemberists. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Target Age: 8-12

Clarion Books

Pub Date: May 01, 2009

0.6" H x 7.2" L x 7.3" W 

71 pages