cover image The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths, Retold

The Beautiful Stories of Life: Six Greek Myths, Retold

Cynthia Rylant, , illus. by Carson Ellis. . Harcourt, $16 (71pp) ISBN 978-0-15-206184-5

Rylant (All in a Day ) hones six myths into clear, accessible stories for younger readers. Plainspoken and captivating, they draw readers into the sagas of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus and Psyche. The stories grab attention with intriguing introductions, e.g., “In winter, when ice coats the thin arms of small trees and flowers die... Persephone can be found among the dead. She is their queen. She did not ever mean to be so, but it happened.” Rylant's observations about the characters and their foibles focus the brisk-paced retellings (“Perhaps it was not love that Pygmalion wanted so much as notice”). At the heart of each is a soul-stealing kind of love that demands extremes from its participants, for example, Psyche enduring Aphrodite's impossible tests to prove her love for Eros. Ellis, illustrator of the Mysterious Benedict Society books, employs delicate pencil drawings to render the characters amid the organic: flowers, fruit, leaves and twisting vines. The small format reflects the book's purpose: to be a pleasurable sampling of some well-known Greek myths, their ideas and morals distilled to their core. Ages 10–up. (May)