cover image The Pomegranate Seeds

The Pomegranate Seeds

Laura Geringer, L. G. Bass. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-395-68192-3

Geringer's adaptation of the Greek myth about the seasons boasts a few modern touches, namely, a slightly more outspoken and headstrong Persephone and a Demeter cast as something of a conflicted working mother. No longer is the kidnapped Persephone her uncle Hades's intended child bride, but a companion to a lonely old god who (rather ironically for the king of the dark and often cruel underworld) ``needs a lively little girl to... brighten the rooms with her smile.'' These gods also use contemporary parlance: ``You don't let her breathe,'' says Hades about Persephone, accusing his sister Demeter of being overprotective. Basing her work on an 1853 retelling by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Geringer (A Three Hat Day) also introduces such figures as Phoebus and Hecate and, incorporating other mythic elements as well, she advances the story at a leisurely pace. Despite the updating, she captures the timeless, bittersweet atmosphere of the ancient tale. Gore's (Jacob and the Stranger) misty, diaphanous images present the god's own world as one might imagine it in a vision or a dream; they are as seductive as the three succulent seeds with which Persephone, condemned as a consequence of eating them to three months a year in the underworld, seals her fate. Ages 7-9. (Oct.)