Gifts from the Gods: Ancient Words and Wisdom from Greek and Roman Mythology

Lise Lunge-Larsen, illus. by Gareth Hinds. Houghton Mifflin, $18.99 (96p) ISBN 978-0-547-15229-5
Lunge-Larsen and Hinds explain what words like echo, grace, hypnotize, and janitor have in common, tracing the origins of common words and expressions to Greek and Roman myths. Readers may know that “arachnid” derives from the story of Arachne and that modern-day “sirens” have mythical antecedents, but this collection has plenty of surprises, too, such as the roots of “nemesis” (the goddess of justice) or “tantalize,” after doomed Tantalus. Lunge-Larsen provides additional context, including dictionary definitions, and quotes from children’s literature. Hinds incorporates graphic novel–style elements into his dynamic illustrations, including dialogue balloons and filmic perspectives. A treat for myth lovers and language lovers alike, this smart and well-executed compilation should provide readers with a deeper understanding of the ways in which language evolves and of the surprising symbolism behind certain words. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/22/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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