cover image Perseus


Warwick Hutton. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-50565-2

Hutton's customarily expressive watercolors bring both beauty and solemnity to the tale of Medusa's slayer. Cast adrift at birth because of a prophecy that he would one day kill his grandfather, Perseus is manipulated into pursuit of the hideous Gorgon's head by a king who desires his mother--and who is, of course, later turned to stone when Perseus displays his bounty. The vistas Hutton portrays, many of which suggest vast expanses of sea and sky under an unchanging, seemingly pitiless sun, form an eloquent, ironic commentary on the struggles and frequent cruelty of mankind--struggles to which not even the gods are inured. (One of the most powerful scenes depicts a seated, diminutive Perseus bathed in moonlight at Athene's and Hermes's feet.) The myth itself may have less contemporary resonance than others interpreted by this artist: in it, for example, beauty and goodness are closely and repeatedly allied. And, uncharacteristically, Hutton leaves the story open-ended, never returning to the prophecy whose eventual fulfillment is an integral part of the myth. Still, an evocative interpretation of a cornerstone of Greek lore. Ages 7-up. (Mar.)