Thursday, October 16, 2014

Demeter and Persephone #review #giveaway

I was super-excited get my review copy of Demeter and Persephone from Barefoot Books, just in time for Samhain. (I also got a copy of Orpheus and Eurydice, but that will be another post and another giveaway!) Now it is here and I am excited to share it with you!

First, you should know that I am somewhat of a purist when it comes to the myths. I despise most of the modern feminist retellings of this story because so many of them miss the point. And I am irritated with the versions that make Hades into some kind of evil monster randomly kidnapping a maiden for no apparent reason. It drives me crazy that a perfectly good story should be messed with. But, I also understand that when you are adapting a traditional Greek myth for modern children, it will have to be messed with, at least a little bit. After all, I mess with it when I retell it, but I have a very high opinion of my ability to do it properly. As excited as I was to get my hands on this book, I was also really worried that it would be so altered that I would hate it.

Well, it's altered. But I don't hate it.

Hades is grim, but not evil, as it should be. The fact that Persephone is to be Queen of the Underworld and not just some captive, and that Zeus agreed to the match is made clear. Demeter's travels are included; many retellings, including my own, skip that bit. However, the family of Demophon and Metaneira (whose names are not mentioned) is structured completely differently, but I suppose this simplifies things. Also, many important characters are missing: There is no Gaia, Hecate, Helios or Iambe in this story.

What the authors have done is take an ancient story, modernized it a bit and made it accessible to young readers. It is a good story. It is exciting and emotional and it moves along at a good clip (another departure from Homer who does like to dwell on things, like food and flowers). I very much enjoyed this book; even though I am a purist, and the book was written for 8 year olds. It's a short book, 33 pages, not including the end notes.

My 3 year old son did not have the patience to listen to the whole story, but he was fascinated with the pictures. He kept pointing to the pictures of Demeter and Persephone gathering flowers and saying that it looked like our yard. I wish! When I turned to pages without pictures, he wanted to go back to the pictures, narrative be damned. There are pictures on about every third page and they are evocative of ancient Greek art in a way I can't really explain. It doesn't look like ancient Greek pottery painting in the least, but something about it reminds me of it. I don't know a thing about art, I just know that this book is very pretty.

In the back of the book is a map of ancient Greece, some portraits of the Greek Gods and a cute family tree with oh so many Zeuses!

And so, I highly recommend that you get this book for your young Pagan this season. It is an excellent introduction to Greek myth and the story of Persephone in particular. And to help you out, I am giving away my copy. You should know that I got this copy free from Barefoot Books.

Also, if you're interested, Barefoot Books has this book as part of a set along with Theseus and the Minotaur and Orpheus and Eurydice called The Greek Myths Set and another set including the stories of Achilles and Odysseus called the Greek Epic Paperbacks .

All images were scavenged from the Barefoot Books website with permission. (Alas, my camera is no more or I would show you how cute my Sunshine is when he's pointing at pictures.)

And Now, On to the Giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway