Gods and Heroes: Mythology Around the World
Gods and Heroes: Mythology Around the World This is a solid, all-around introduction to world-wide mythology. It is age-appropriate, so no worries about explicit sexual or violent elements that, in fact, are part of some god and goddess stories. What’s important, perhaps, is that this book – spanning 75 entries and 23 cultures – enables you to introduce your child to the world’s ancient myths that, in their time, weren’t myths, they were religions.
Beyond the usual suspects like Greek and Roman myths, there are Indian-Hindu, Egyptian, Norse, Chinese, Native Americans, Japanese-Shinto, Sumerian-Mesopotamian, Australian, Maori, Persian, West African and Slavic. Of course, the oldies-but-goodies are well represented, from Hercules, Osiris and Shiva to Thor, Vishnu and Zeus. But this book, to its credit, presents a vast diversity of supernatural entities and divinely-touched heroes, even a few nasty underworld creatures. This wide-spanning scope of mythology is accompanied with whimsical comics-style illustrations, and a narrative that’s often amusing but always respectful.
The Coyote stories from the American Southwest are entrancing; the Aboriginal Rainbow Snake, one of the world’s oldest mythological creatures, will capture the attention of any myth-curious reader; and the Aztec/Mayan gods, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, are visually fascinating.
Arguably, the chapters might be more effective if they were grouped by culture, but grab-bagging the gods might move readers into tales they wouldn’t have explored otherwise. The content is indexed at the back by type and tradition, along with a map.
Don Oldenburg ©2018 Parents’ Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of “The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion” (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.