cover image Medusa Jones

Medusa Jones

Ross Collins, . . Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (134pp) ISBN 978-0-439-90100-0

In the same family as this season's Pandora Gets Jealous (Reviews, Jan. 21) but for a younger audience, this witty romp through Greek mythology pictures Medusa in childhood, persecuted by the popular crowd—Theseus, Perseus and “gorgeous but pessimistic” Cassandra. The self-styled Champions torment “freaks” like Medusa, who has snakes instead of hair, and her friends Chiron the centaur and the bullish Minotaur, whose dad got carried away adding on to the house, which is now so complicated that Mino can go for days without finding his parents. Medusa has the family ability to turn her enemies into stone, but her sensible parents won't let her: “You have to work out other ways of dealing with people who get on your nerves,” they counsel in characteristically contemporary language. In his first novel, Collins (Alvie Eats Soup ) extends the joke with plenty of brio. Medusa doesn't like to read, because “her headsnakes had a habit of turning the pages back when one of them had missed an important plot point”; Medea appears as a nasty teacher; and the three-headed dog, Cerberus, plays a vital role as Medusa's pet—but readers don't need to know the myths to enjoy the rousing plot. Imaginatively laid out pages that incorporate energetic b&w illustrations of varying size welcome readers. Ages 9-12. (Jan.)