cover image Goatherd and the Shepherdess: 2a Tale from Ancient Greece

Goatherd and the Shepherdess: 2a Tale from Ancient Greece

Lenny Hort. Dial Books, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1352-9

Hort (How Many Stars in the Sky?) transforms and condenses a sexy pastoral romance from third-century Greece into a tragic but ultimately uplifting story of a love triangle-a decidedly odd metamorphosis. Daphnis and Chloe, both foundlings rescued by herders, grow up together, ``so it was natural that [they] became the best of friends.'' But the cowherd Dorcon becomes Daphnis's rival, and the two ``grew as frisky and quarrelsome as a couple of billy goats over their favorite shepherdess.'' Dorcon conveniently leaves the scene by dying nobly: mortally wounded by pirates who have abducted Daphnis, he tells Chloe how to save her lover. This version does away with the original's keen interest in the gradual development of sexual interest and love between Daphnis and Chloe, but doesn't add much to compensate (no notes comment on source or approach, but the story is usually attributed to the poet Longus). There's also a swipe of sorts at the end, at adopted children who search for their natural parents. Bloom (Yonder) paints suitably pastoral landscapes-green grass, gray rocks and impossibly blue sky-in a classical manner. Similarly antique figures pose to dramatic effect, but the end result, highly stylized, may appeal more to adults than to children. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)