STARFALL: Phaeton and the Chariot of the Sun

Michael Cadnum, Author . Scholastic/Orchard $16.95 (124p) ISBN 978-0-439-54533-4

Cadnum (In a Dark Wood ) once again displays his expertise as a storyteller as he refashions sections of Ovid's Metamorphoses into a trilogy of enchanting tales. In this first of three volumes planned, he relates the story of 15-year-old Phaeton, Apollo's half-mortal son, whose brazen request to drive his father's chariot across the sky inevitably leads to disaster for the world and his own untimely death. Throughout the story, the author takes care to preserve the spirit of the original text. He clearly defines the characters' flaws (Apollo's fatherly pride and rashness, Phaeton's overconfidence) and conjures images of Apollo's temple ("Columns rose up from the darkness, glowing gold and other precious metals pulsing with the subdued but tireless sunlight secreted within") and the god's powerful steeds ("The air shook as horses struck sparks with their hooves, nickered and thundered, eager to fly") that reflect the splendor evoked in Ovid's descriptions. Readers will feel Phaeton's trepidation as he journeys to meet his father for the first time, and they will understand the hero's mixture of excitement and dread as he loses control of the horses. While some poetic elements may be lost in translation, Cadnum compensates by humanizing classical figures and transforming lofty language into accessible, lyrical prose; he may well prompt enthusiasts to seek the original source. Ages 9-14. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 09/01/2004
Genre: Children's
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