***The First Olympic Games
A Gruesome Greek Myth with a Happy Ending
retold by Jean Richards
illustrated by Kat Thacker
Reviewed June 23, 2004.
The Millbrook Press, Brookfield, Connecticut, 2000. 36 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (E RIC).
Here’s a presentation for young readers about how the Olympic games began
long ago. The only problem is that the myth involved is indeed gruesome.
How can you present this myth for younger readers? Jean Richards does
a wonderful job with her authorial voice: “Once upon a time, long
ago in ancient Greece, there lived a man who was not very nice. You
will soon see why he was not very nice.”
Later on, when Tantalus gets the idea to chop up his son, Pelops, and serve
him as stew to the gods, she says, “And then Tantalus had a terrible idea,
a horrible idea. Remember, I told you he was not a very nice man.”
The gods bring Pelops back to life and grant him favors, and he ends up
being an important part of the beginning of the Olympic games.
After the story of the myth, the book goes on to tell how archaeologists
discovered the ancient fields of Olympia and decided to revive the Olympic
games. Of course, it’s perfect reading for this summer’s Olympic games
in Greece once again.
Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund. All
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