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Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas
Cover Artist: G. Brian Karas
Review by Gayle Surrette
Scholastic Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780439728065
Date: 01 February 2010 List Price $17.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

With beautiful whimsical full-color drawing, Karas tells the condensed and marginally sanitized story of Zeus from birth to Master of Lightning and Thunder, and ruler of the gods.

Told from the point of view of Amaltheia, the she-goat that raised Zeus, the book opens with a Cast of Characters. There's a thumbnail of each character, their name, and a pronunciation guide. Present and accounted for are Zeus, Gaia, Uranus, Rhea, Cronus, the Titans, Cyclopes, the Hundred-Handers, Hera, Demeter, Hestia, Hades, Poseidon, and the rest of Zeus's brothers and sisters.

The first impression, even before you start reading the text, is the lovely drawings. No matter how horrible the incident they depict they're just wonderfully colorful, whimsical (in a tongue in cheek sort of way). They help to pull you into the story and make you turn the pages. For the subject matter, they don't get in your face with the details -- after all this is a book for young children either to be read to or to read on their own, maybe with some help until they get familiar with the names.

As for the story, it's all here but at a safe distance, being told to Zeus in parts. How his grandfather banished the Cyclopes and Hundred-Handers to the underworld. How Gaia had Cronus free them and banish his father to the bottom of the sea. Even that Cronus ate his own children out of fear that one of them would someday depose him as he had his father.

See what I mean all the awful bits are here, just told in a not too frightening way. I'd advise that if you're considering buying this for your child that you look it over. Since most younglings seem to love these gruesome stories, they may take them better than us adults, but it could be frightening to some children.

Zeus is portrayed as a pretty good guy who strives to do the right. In this version Zeus gives his cruel father a drug to make him throw up his siblings and free them. Much better than the original story I heard but still gross -- kids will love it.

Check it out before buying. But the legend is, while a bit kinder and gentler, all there and the art is great accompaniment to the tale.

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