Sunday, July 17, 2005

Myth-O-Mania


I did some research on pomegranate seeds in fairy tales simply so I could have an excuse to post this picture of my new necklace. As soon as I saw the necklace, I thought of pomegranate seeds (though a friend of mine from the Midwest thought they looked more like corn kernels.) When I returned to the store to admire the necklace, I called Bede on the phone and asked, "May I have a present?"

"What is the present for?" he responded.

"For love," I said. In the background, the shop-keepers cheered.

"Yes," Bede said.

*
I could have written about the Persian story Simorgh, or talked about how there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, and those seeds represent the 613 commandments in the Torah. Of course, there's always Hades and Persephone.

Poor Hades. Just because he is the Greek god of the Underworld, people think he's a dreary sort of chap, inclined to peevishness and able only to obtain a wife by kidnapping her. In the Myth-o-mania series, by Kate McMullan, Hades sets the record straight: Zeus was a wretched liar, Hera was the true boss of the gods, Cupid* was a pimply teenager who was waiting to grow out of adolescence before he showed himself to Psyche, and Persephone stowed away on Hades' chariot to get away from her mother constantly checking up on her every three minutes. During the beginning of my "reluctant reading" phase (soon after Lucia was born and I found I couldn't concentrate on books with my previous level of intensity), the Myth-O-Mania books were refreshing, funny, and easy to read in one sitting. The target age-group is for fourth and fifth graders who already have some familiarity with the Greek myths and are ready to read about the lighter side of Mount Olympus. If you're interested in reading these books but are not in the target age group, give into the temptation to read the books anyway. Later, you can always pick up Bullfinch's Mythology to help you return to serious scholarship, if that is what you desire.

*Cupid's name really is Eros, but his Italian mama calls him her "cupido."

***
Addendum: Although I wrote this post yesterday, I changed the date for today. It looks tidier this way. I'm still as thrilled with my pomegranate necklace as a six- year-old with her first pair of black patent leather shoes. The shoes have to click, of course, or the whole effect is lost. (No, I didn't have those shoes, but that's another story.)

5 comments:

abcgirl said...

ever since becoming a "youth" librarian, i have been too impatient to read adult books (no, i'm not talking about dirty books, just books not written for teens and tweens). they're so loooooonnnggg and wordy and have soooooo many characters and they're so heavy! i'll only consent to "read" them if they are read to my by a professional reader in 25 minute segments on my commute to and from work. otherwise, give me juvie lit! have you read the deltora quest series by emily rodda? they're fluffy, to be sure, but i find them to be a nice, light introduction to the world of the fantasy quest novel.

it cracks me up that at one point (maybe they still do this, i don't know) the harry potter books were published with two covers--one for kids and one, more demure cover for adults to read so they wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen reading a "children's book." i say, read them! you'll discover great plots, delightful characters, and playful use of language that is fun to read. there is no shame in enjoying a book that you can actually get through in just a few sittings. i sometimes find that i force myself to put down some of the shorter books after only a few chapters so that i can savor the book and make it last longer! (especially if it's part of a series that i've been anticipating for awhile.) so go out and read the series of unfortunate events (ignore the rather unfortunate mental image of jim carrey if you've already seen the movie)! find a copy of lirael and settle in for a good read! ignore the label on the spine and just read!

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Hello, my fellow librarian!
I have just finished a satisfying "grown-up" book (I can't bring myself to say "adult"): Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I didn't get into it until a couple of weeks ago, when I brought it on the plane with me. It was the first time in two years I didn't have to attend to my child (sweet tho she be), and lo! I could actually read more than a paragraph at a time.

Thank you for the deltorra quest series suggestion! I've heard of the series, but haven't picked it up yet. I didn't read the Young Wizard series by Diane Duane until I had to review the seventh book in the series. Aside from a few clunkers, the stories are well-thought out, with sympathetic characters.

Please drop by again! I'll visit your blog, too.

abcgirl said...

one of the most worthy "grown-up" books i've listened to recently is american gods by neil gaiman. it was well-read (a good reader can make ALL the difference!) and well-written which seems to be hard to find. one of my all-time favorite audios is scarlet feather by maeve binchy. it's not the type of book i'd normally pick up to read, but i'd always wanted to know how to pronounce her first name and the plot looked somewhat interesting, but it was one of only a handful of books that i was excited to get into the car and listen to.

i often wonder how different my first impression of a book would be if i heard it vs. read it. would i have loved douglas adams as much if he were narrated to me? would i love jasper fforde more if i read the wednesday next novels myself? since it's really impossible to get two first impressions of the same thing i guess i'll never know. do you like terry pratchett? i've read a few discworld because someone compared him once to douglas adams, but i keep coming away disappointed. i'm currently giving "hat full of sky" a try to see if he does better in novels for the younger set.

i have only read the first of the young wizard series, but my library owns the set! do you have favorites?

i'll see if jonathan strange is on CD.

it's so lovely to meet up with you online!

:)

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Dear ABCGirl,
I just got "American Gods" from the library! Bede has appropriated it, but I hope to get to it despite my skittery brain. I'm only on page 6 of the new Harry Potter right now. Perhaps page 8. I keep getting distracted by other things: story ideas, cups of tea, the like. Anyway, I've not yet read any Neil Gaiman other than what he's written on his blog (and what a blog it is).

I would recommend reading Strange/Norrell instead of listening to it, simply because looking at the footnotes is part of the enjoyment. Just a thought. One of my colleagues got the book on cd from the library, and gave up after cd 11. There are 28 in all.

Of the Young Wizards series, my favorites are Deep Wizardry (a Passion play under the sea) and Wizard's Dilemma. They have more of the flavor of Madeleine L'Engle than J.K. Rowling. High Wizardry is funny just because it's a great example of how you should NOT use current media brands in your book. Duane fixes this problem by having the younger sister's computer "upgrade" every few months by getting smaller and sleeker. I can't remember which book it was in, but there is a scene in which one of the characters is trying to get the vcr, dvd player, television and stereo (or some combination) to work together, and they're all quarrelling. I think I actually cried with laughter. It was an unexpected pleasure.

Hounds of the Morrigan, by Pat O'Shea, is still one of my all-time personal favorites. It takes place in modern day and faraway Ireland. It's a hard one to booktalk. At one point, I said that the book took over 10 years to write, and the 5th graders were impressed. They asked if I had any more books to recommend that took 10 years to write. I was tempted to answer flippantly, "Yeah, mine," but I resisted.

And now, I shall visit your blog again. Harry Potter can wait for me to get to him when I will.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

P.S. ABC Girl, have you listened to "Loser" by Jerry Spinelli, as a book on tape? It's read by Steve Buscemi, and it's a good match. It's worth listening to just to hear Buscemi says, "snickerdoodle."