I’ve been into Greek mythology for as long as I can remember. Everything is just so amazingly bizarre. Where else would you read about a bloke who has a headache, asks to have his skull split open with an axe, and a fully dressed woman pops out? Or a guy who swallows each of his new-born kids whole, until his angry wife gives him a boulder to swallow instead? The surviving baby grows up in secret, before coming back to make his dad vomit up his now adult brothers and sisters. Sweet!
My parents got me into Greek mythology from a very young age. Greek immigrants, they were keen for their language and culture to carry on in their new home. I’m so glad. My language skills aren’t as good as they should be, but I’ve been able to pass on my love of mythology to my own children. And now – thanks to my wonderful publisher Sweet Cherry – I can spread the love to a wider audience. With my own humorous twists, that is!
Because I’ve always been a book fanatic, I’ve kept several of my childhood mythology books. Some, sadly, were read so often that they didn’t make it. I’m always on the lookout for new old copies, so to speak. Here are some of the ones that managed to survive the ravages of the ages …
The Legend of Ulysses is a retelling of The Odyssey for kids. Reading it now, as an adult, I’m impressed by how skilfully the author handled it. A lot of the original material is totally Adults Only. I wouldn’t mind having a go at something like this myself.
The Hand of Apollo is for slightly older kids. It’s set in modern-day Turkey. It’s about a boy who discovers an interest for archaeology, and learns about the tensions between investigating the past and protecting the present.
This is the cover of one of my old Greek school books. Translated, the title reads History: Mythical Years. It’s kind of cool to read about Greek mythology in Greek, with the help of a dictionary, that is. I don’t know who scratched doodles onto the plastic cover. It couldn’t have been me, surely …
I love the style of the internal illustrations. These are six of the twelve Olympians. The pictures look like the old vase drawings. Nick Roberts, my illustrator, had a similar idea. All the characters in the books drawn from mythology are depicted in this way, except they’re funny – very clever!
It thrills me to think that my Hopeless Heroes series will help get a new generation of kids into Greek mythology. Who knows? Maybe one far off day, an author will put up an old picture of Here Comes Hercules and say it inspired them to start writing 😊
Do you have any old Greek mythology books that got you hooked? Let me know in the comments!