cover image The Iliad and the Odyssey

The Iliad and the Odyssey

Marcia Williams. Candlewick Press (MA), $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-0053-2

In her signature comic-strip style, Williams (The Adventures of Robin Hood; Don Quixote) gives Homer's epic chronicles of warring gods, mortals and monsters a rollicking new incarnation. Considering these works' labyrinthine episodes and their teeming cast of characters, the author does an especially impressive job of boiling down selected escapades to easily digested, single-page servings. She supports the frisky, colloquial text with creatively cluttered cartoons embellished with characters' droll asides, many of which are pitched to a kid-like sense of humor. When Thetis offers her son Achilles oranges to stuff down his shirt so he'll look like a maiden instead of a soldier, he replies, ""They are not my size, mother. I want melons, at least!""; below the cartoon panel, the running text more soberly states, ""Having foreseen Achilles' death at Troy, Thetis had him disguised as a maiden and sent him to ... the Isle of Scyros."" Williams's recipe for leavening the classics is as satisfying as ever. Ages 7-12. (Nov.)