Templar Publishing, £17.99, ISBN 978-1-84011-893-3
What a cute book. Mythology aims to introduce kids to the various more popular aspects of Greek mythology – you know, Zeus and Hercules and all that – but the gimmick here is that the entire book is supposed to be a reproduction of an old book written by a “Lady Hestia Evans”. The original book was last in the possession of John Oro, a gentleman of her acquaintance who seek to explore Greece after being inspired by Hestia’s tales of Lord Byron’s adventures there. Hestia only had one request of John, that John would pass over any valuable relic he found to a Mr Patakis in Athens. The lure of treasures and even power from the Zeus himself soon became too much for John to handle, however.
This is a gorgeous book. The illustrations aren’t just pretty, everything is done to make the whole book look like a book from the early 1800s as much as possible. Basically, the main section of each page is devoted to the Greek mythology itself, with notes and annotations by John at the side of each page. Each page is lovingly and generously illustrated with some really lovely artwork. Wherever it is relevant, the pages open up into a bigger spread – usually for maps – and the whole thing is just great to study at greater detail.
Mythology also comes with pull-out and detachable stuff, such as letters from John to Hestia and vice versa folded in envelopes attached to certain pages, notes on side topics related to the subject in cute little pouches, and even some stick-shaped little card thingies that can be used to play a game. Kids who can get rough with their books may not be the best people to hand this book over to, and I suspect any copy of Mythology found in public libraries may be missing something here and there. I have to say, though, these things are great; they make the whole reading experience a more interactive adventure.
The stories of Zeus and gang are sanitized, understandably, for younger kids, but it’s still amusing to read about how Zeus “married” all his paramours or how Hephaestus caught his wife Aphrodite “kissing” Ares. John’s sad story is amusing and a bit of a predictable side, but it adds a nice touch to the whole thing, especially as his story allows Mr Steer a chance to bring up information on artifacts, relics, and other Greek-related but not mythology-related subjects. It is also a nice touch to have each pages increasingly covered with gold after John received King Midas’s gift from Zeus.
I personally don’t find anything new or interesting here, but then again, I’m an old bat who is already familiar with Greek mythology. The sanitation of the old Greek stories can be unintentionally hilarious, however, and the gee-gaws and fun stuff that come with this book makes reading Mythology quite a trip indeed.