cover image The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus

The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus

Aliki. HarperCollins, $17.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-06-023530-7

Despite her vibrant art and her valiant attempt to simplify her material, Aliki's (A Medieval Feast; My Visit to the Aquarium) whirlwind tour of Olympus doesn't manage to untangle the labyrinthine legends of the mythical past. Her book falls into two sections, the first breezing through traditional Greco-Roman theogony. Some of her truncated accounts may mystify the target audience: ``Cronus married his sister Rhea, and they had many children. But Cronus was afraid that one of them might overthrow him just as he had overthrown his father. So as each child was born he swallowed it.'' By the time Cronus regurgitates his offspring, who join with Zeus to rule the universe, Aliki moves on to a series of page-long profiles of various deities. The two halves of the book just don't hang together. On the other hand, the art, which is generously interspersed with the text, provides consistency. Bountiful details adapted from Greek vase paintings and sculpture fill Aliki's stylized pencil drawings. Washes of gouache paints and colored pencils imbue the compositions with a distinctly Mediterranean sunniness. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)