Do you ever revisit the books of your youth? It’s one of those big dilemmas. Do you reread them to see if they’re as good or do you not take the risk? It’s awful going back to something that you loved and realising that it’s just not that great. That was my quandary with this book. I had thought about it for years but couldn’t find it anywhere. It didn’t help that I’d forgotten the full title and didn’t know who wrote it. There was a point where I genuinely believed that I’d made it up. Although, I also remembered how much I loved this book. I am sure that it was the reason that I love Greek mythology. It must have been my introduction to them. I can’t remember where I bought it but it was probably at the Scholastic book fair. Those places were magical. I miss the rush you’d get at one of those. Nothing in adult life can match it.
It’s always a struggle selling certain topics to children. Like history? How do you sell history to young children when they can’t necessarily comprehend a world so vastly different from their own? The Horrible Histories series of books proves that intelligent writing, humour and fun formats are a great way to make these topics consumable for young readers. Terry Deary brings that same approach to Top 10 Greek Legends. It is a fun and silly book that accurately represents Greek mythology. It works so well because, let’s be honest, Greek myths are pretty silly.
The book brings together 10 of the most popular and important stories of Greek Gods and heroes. It presents them in a very readable way that younger children will enjoy. Each story is followed by a fun list of facts about Greek mythology. For example, the top 10 Greek Gods, 10 greatest heroes, 10 worst villains and so on. The individual legends are told in different formats which prevent the reader from being faced with pages of text. They are all illustrated and displayed in fun ways. You get comic books, a play, the labours of Hercules are presented like school reports, and the Odyssey plays out as a poem.
The great thing about this book is that all of the facts are presented in such appealing ways. As it’s meant for children, it obviously glosses over some of the more unsavoury or adult aspects of the mythology. It’s also simplified and edited to the bare bones but you hear everything you need to know. This is a great introduction to Greek mythology that will be loved by any young reader. Especially because there are so many ways for children to get involved. There are quizzes that will allow them to get involved and take something away from it all.
As an adult reader, I know that there are better and more comprehensive resources to learn about Greek mythology. However, this book does what it was meant to really well. It makes them fun and interesting for younger readers. This is another one of those series where children will learn something without even realising that they’re learning. The humour stands up and Terry Deary really understands a kid’s taste levels. It’s not too crass but it definitely isn’t dry. It’s always a worry that you’ll reread a book from your childhood and realise that it’s really cringey now. Rereading Top Ten Greek Legends was great. It holds up and I’d recommend it to anyone.
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