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Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the OdysseyReview - Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey
The One-Eyed Giant/the Land of the Dead
by Mary Pope Osborne
HarperAudio, 2002
Review by Su Terry
Apr 7th 2003 (Volume 7, Issue 15)

 Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey: The One-Eyed Giant/the Land of the Dead is a retelling for young children of a few of the more popular tales from Homer’s Odyssey. Additional information about Homer, the Illiad/Odyssey, and Greek gods/goddess in supplied to fill in background for the young listener.

Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey is a six-book series that retells the tales of Homer’s Odyssey for children. Book I is entitled The One-Eyed Giant. The book opens with a very brief summary of the story of the Illiad giving the background of the Trojan War, the tale of the Trojan horse, and a little background for Odysseus, the main character of the Odyssey, and how he was entrapped into fighting in the war. Finally, the story moves from the Illiad to the Odyssey, or the story of Odysseus’ attempt to return home begins.

In Book I entitled The One-Eyed Giant After the War, Odysseus sets sail with seven ships and 130 men.  The first island on which Odysseus and his men land is “the isle of the lotus eaters.” The men who eat the lotus on this isle are lulled into an opiate stupor from which they never regain consciousness. On the next island on which Odysseus and his men land they encounter a Cyclops or The One-Eyed Giant of the book’s title. The one-eyed giant is named Polyphemus and he is not opposed to dining on Odysseus’ men. In the style of Greek myths, Odysseus defeats Polyphemus, but not before Odysseus learns a terrible lesson about his own ego and by paying a horrible price in ships, lives, and time.

In Book II entitled The Land of the Dead Odysseus and his men continue on their journey home. At the next island that they visit, they encounter the wind god and his family. After a “long” refreshing stay, the wind god presents Odysseus with a very special gift to assist them on their journey. Unfortunately, within sight of home, Odysseus’ men become greedy and try to steal the wind god’s gift sending the remaining fleet far from their desired destination. At their next stop, Odysseus and his men encounter Circe, the evil sorceress. Once more they barely escape with their hide intact…literally! At the conclusion of Book II, Odysseus journeys to the Land of the Dead in order to speak to a dead seer, but while there he also encounters some one he does not want to meet in the Land of the Dead. Book II also includes a short family history of the major gods and goddesses, a pronunciation guide, and additional information about Homer and Greek mythology.

Mary Pope Osborne is the author of many highly acclaimed picture books, early chapter books, middle-grade biographies, and young adult novels. She has also written many acclaimed retellings of myths, folktales, and works of historical fiction. Osborne was the twenty-seventh president of the Authors Guild and currently is a member of their Board of Directors. Mary Pope Osborne is the author of the bestselling series The Magic Tree House (28 books), eight Magic Tree House Research Guides (8 books) Spider Kane Mysteries (2 books) as well as The Brave Little Seamstress (May 2002) and New York's Bravest (Aug 2002). Osborne lives in Connecticut. Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey: Sirens and Sea Monsters (Book 3) will be release in June 2003.

James Simmons is the narrator of Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey: The One-Eyed Giant/the Land of the Dead.  He is a stage and television performer and appeared in the film Henry V.

Mary Pope Osborne's Tales from the Odyssey: The One-Eyed Giant/the Land of the Dead is a wonderful introduction to the tales of Homer and to Greek mythology in general for young children. As Mary Pope Osborne states in her introduction it was her early encounter with the tales of Homer that started her on her career as a rewriter of the tales for children. This book is rated “Grades 4-8”. While the tales can not be told without some violence, it is not graphic and quite appropriate for young children.  I recommend it.

 

© 2003 Su Terry


 Su Terry: Education: B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian mystics.


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