cover image Odysseus and the Cyclops

Odysseus and the Cyclops

Warwick Hutton. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80036-8

As in his previous retellings, Hutton (The Trojan Horse; Persephone) whittles down a vivid incident in Greek mythology to a length and level of complexity well suited to kids. Here, Hutton visits the Odyssey for the famous encounter between Odysseus and the one-eyed Cyclops, Polyphemus. Odysseus and 12 of his men are trapped in the Cyclops's cave, and the Cyclops has begun to devour his visitors two by two. Wily Odysseus realizes that he can't simply kill the Cyclops lest he and his crew remain trapped forever in the cave, so he devises a daring plan, gouging the Cyclops's eye and having his men escape from the monster's clutches by clinging to the bellies of his sheep when he leads them outside. The unassuming narrative has an appealing, conversational tone: when the crew disembarks on the island and one of his men asks Odysseus why he is taking along a jar of wine, the leader responds, ""I don't know, but something tells me to take it."" With its mild palette of gentled blues and grays, the watercolor-and-pen art tames some of the gore in this episode, too. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)