Don’t Myth This!

Posted in Mythology at 6:46 pm by Janet

In case you still want more myth stuff, School Library Journal published an article featuring additional myth-related books. If you liked The Lightning Thief, you might like these….  


There’s also a list of books about the actual myths.


Did You Myth Me?

Posted in Mythology at 6:35 pm by Janet

I still have a few more things to say about myths…then I’ll move on and by then it will probably be time for ALA and maybe a Mo Willems or John Green sighting and that will give me something else to blather on about for awhile.

In the course of reading all these myth-influenced teen books, I realized I didn’t know a whole lot about the original myths. So I checked out a version of the Odyssey. It’s still sitting next to my bed, gathering dust and collecting overdue fines. Instead I started reading Eric Shanower’s Age of Bronze graphic novel series about the Trojan War. I read A Thousand Ships, the first of three (so far) in the series. It kicks off the epic, with Paris kidnapping Helen, armies gathering, and various other ancient Greek hijinx. The drawings are incredibly detailed and evocative. The story speeds along with lots of action and just the right amount of dialog.

Thank god the book has a very helpful glossary of names and a genealogical chart. I did find some of the transitions from one thread of the story to the next confusing. Also some of the characters were hard to tell apart (you have to look at their headbands to know the difference). Has anyone else read this? I can’t decide if this was beause I don’t read graphic novels all the time and I wasn’t super familiar with the story, or if it really was a little confusing. I mean, it is a long and convoluted story. Any thoughts? Nevertheless, this series is a great and really cool achievement of graphic storytelling.


The Last Olympian, At Last

Posted in Mythology at 6:59 pm by Janet

A week or two ago the circulation and ILL departments came through for me and I got my copy of The Last Olympian. It did not disappoint. You probably know by now that Percy and co. have to fight the evil Titan Kronos and his vast monster army. The demigods are defending Mount Olympus, aka the 600th floor of the Empire State Building, and the battle goes down in the streets of Manhattan. The book features a wide array of fearsome mythological monsters and lots of heroism on the part of the demigods. Nonstop action. It’s almost all one big long battle and I think writing about action is Riordan’s strong point. There’s even a tiny little bit of romance. Good stuff all around.

I have to say I like that this series did not become bloated like certain other blockbuster kids/teen series. This one clocks in at 381 pages. Very doable. I didn’t get the feeling that the editing was neglected.

I’m doing a book discussion on this at the library at the end of the summer. I’m sure the kids will be really excited about the book. Have you read The Last Olympian? What would you want to talk about? One thing I’m wondering about is the future of the series. This is supposed to be the last book, right? But another prophecy is revealed at the end of the book. Do you think there will be a sequel, or a spin-off series?

Well, I’d better go return this book because some other poor sap is probably waiting impatiently for it. Sorry I kept it for so long, other library user.


Emily Whitman, Radiant Darkness, Fab Interview

Posted in Interviews, Mythology at 11:24 am by Bridget

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman

Tarts’ Wardrobe is excited to bring you an interview with Portland author Emily Whitman on her super fab new book Radiant Darkness. I wish I had a nice long interesting intro like Janet had for the last interview, but I think Emily does a better job introducing her book and also I am a week or two behind on posting it as is. I will say that I loved the book and that it will knock your socks off, possibly literally if you are the sock-knocking type.  I’ll leave you with Emily’s own brilliance which needs no introduction.

What is Radiant Darkness about?

It’s based on the Greek myth of Persephone, daughter of the harvest goddess. In the myth she’s kidnapped by Hades, lord of the underworld, and has to be rescued by her all-powerful mother. Once she’s back, earth bursts into bloom, and we have spring. Radiant Darkness asks, what if Persephone isn’t the ultimate victim, but a girl who makes her own decisions? That includes running away with Hades, the man, er, god she loves, and finding her own way out of the problems that ensue.


What inspired you to use a Greek myth for your story?

Persephone is the original girl on the cusp of her life as a woman. That’s the time I wanted to write about, when you’re defining yourself in so many ways, heading into the world, not as somebody’s child, but as yourself. You’re stretching more than you thought possible to find the strength for that journey. And then, I’ve always loved myths and fairy tales. They’re true in a way facts can’t be. Like Yeats says, “I hear it in the deep heart’s core.”


If you could be a figure from classical Greek myths, who would it be?

Well, I wouldn’t be a mortal. Things tend not to go so great for them in myths. They get turned into things like spiders; or gods (disguised as swans, bulls, showers of gold) take all sorts of advantage of them. No, thank you! I’ll go with grey-eyed Athena, goddess of wisdom, and no slouch when it comes to battles. The owl is her symbol, and raptors rock. (There are lots of them in my next book.) Athena is good with textiles, too. I like textiles. Plus, when she’s near Athens, she gets to hangs out in her temple, the Parthenon, one of the most beautiful buildings ever created. Not too shabby!


More importantly, who would you want to date?

Oh, no question! Hades, as he appears in Radiant Darkness. Zeus is too much of a philanderer for me, and Hermes, for all his boyish charm, is a prankster and playboy. But Hades, with those smoldering eyes, that raven hair, the purple-banded tunic draped over one bare, brown shoulder . . . .


Why do you think books with Greek myth roots are so appealing to teen readers?

Well, myths have no holds barred. It’s a wild, dangerous, passionate world. I mean, have you read Ovid’s Metamorphoses? (Try the Ted Hughes translation!) There’s a primal energy that sweeps you away. Greek gods are larger than life, but they have so many quirks and foibles, they’re so conniving, they end up reminding us of people we know. It’s the ultimate soap opera! And yet there’s a profound truth at the heart of myth that makes us think about what it really means to be human. Truth—fantasy—amazing characters—passion—the greatest possible danger—need I say more?


Now that you have a couple of author events under your belt, do you have any book signing tips for new authors? Fashion tips?

Take this opportunity for what it is: a chance to go shopping. Start early enough so you have plenty of time to enjoy it. Believe me, I milked this for months. For my May 1st reading I found a wonderful loose jacket, in blues and greens, like bright flowers in an impressionist close-up. And that was just right for a reading on May Day, a time for celebrating spring—and Persephone’s arrival. On the practical side, when it’s time for your reading, bring along a bottle of water, a pack of tissues, your special copy of the book where you know how to find everything, any relevant plastic figurines (I had my three-headed Cerberus in my pocket), a good pen, and comfy shoes. You heard me. Comfy.


What’s your favorite thing to do with a pomegranate?

Experience it with all five senses! When I was writing the scene in Radiant Darkness where Persephone is peeling back the rind, I had a gigantic pomegranate on the table in front of me. I went metaphor-bungee-jumping with it. Feeling the texture of the rind, and writing. Looking at all the bumps and scratches and that sharp little crown of a calyx, and writing. Trying to open it with my fingernails, getting to the pith, sniffing the acrid scent, and writing. Licking juice off my fingers, feeling the crunch of seeds in my teeth . . . The poems from that day turned into one of my favorite scenes in the book.

     p.s. You can also buy pomegranate syrup and mix it with sparkling water for an awesome celebratory drink.

     p.p.s. One regret: that I didn’t splurge on those 200-year-old pomegranate tiles I saw in Amsterdam.

     p.p.p.s. You know, there are those who say the tree of knowledge was a pomegranate tree.

     p.p.p.p.s. Since this is Tart’s Wardrobe—does anyone know where I can get a great pair of pomegranate earrings?




Ask a Greek Librarian

Posted in Interviews, Mythology at 9:32 pm by Janet

I recently spoke with my good friend Margaret Triandafyllis. I thought she could shed some light on the recent explosion of kids books related to Greek mythology. When I first met Margaret, way back when we started college, I thought she might be some kind of Greek goddess. She came from Greece, after all, and she is very talented. She is not in fact a goddess; she is a mortal librarian. (Same thing, right?) However, as I learned in a recent interview, she may have been looking to date a Greek god. Here’s what she had to say about Greek mythology, Rick Riordan, and fashion.

TW:  My sources tell me you have climbed Mount Olympus. Did you see any evidence of Greek deities there?
MT: Yes, I have climbed Mount Olympus on several occasions.  Usually I am too focussed on my own pain to be looking around for signs of Greek deities.   I have run across (and sometimes over) goat droppings and have encountered a few donkeys carrying up provisions to the refuges.  And although the refuges are a convenient stop over on the way to the summit of the mountain, they are certainly not providing you with ambrosia at dinner.  I won’t even go into the state of the bathrooms.  Although Hades might be pleased with them. 

TW: As a Greek person, what was your reaction to Rick Riordan’s idea that Mount Olympus has moved to the Empire State Building in NYC?
MT: It is scandalous, to say the least.  As well as the fact that the books state that Mount Olympus  at some point moved to Rome.  Everyone knows that the Romans were just bad copies of the Greeks. 

TW: Do you know ancient Greek? How has it helped you in your work as a librarian?
MT: Well technically speaking, I took ancient Greek for several years in high school.  Let’s just say that my modern Greek is much better.  I can pronounce the names of all the ancient Greek gods and it also helped me do very well on my SAT test. 

TW: What fashion and/or food tips can we glean from the ancient Greeks?
MT: The Mediterranean diet leads to eternal life.  Togas will never go out of fashion.  Have you noticed how popular gladiator sandals are this season? 

TW: Which Greek god or goddess would you want to date?
MT: Ah, good question.  Who’s to say I haven’t already dated a few?  Although Ares appears as a rather unsavory character in Rick Riordan’s books, I always thought he would be an interesting character to date.  Dating the God of war would have to be exciting.

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