Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

King of the castle

When our oldest daughter learned about Greek mythology at school, she would come home and describe the qualities of the different gods to her sisters, who ate it all up.  One day, after describing Hades, lord of the dead and ruler of the underworld, she seemed to go into a trance and then delighted everyone by  reviving in the form of "Queen Hadestia" (the female version of Hades).  In her Hadestia character, she would make her sisters lives a living hell and they couldn’t get enough. Then Percy Jackson entered our home. This genius series created by Rick Riordan captivated our kids. Gods and demi-gods took over their lives for a little while.This past summer, one of our daughters became convinced that Jeff (my husband, her dad) was actually Zeus in mortal's clothing. It didn't take much for her to convince her sisters that this was possible. Jeff loved it and found it frighteningly easy to slip into character. He began to sign his letters to our kids who were away at sleepaway camp, "Zeus". They, in turn, would ask about life on Olympus. The child who came up with this fantasy in the first place insisted it could be true. I finally had to admit that he is king of our castle so who can say for sure that he doesn't rule Olympus in his spare time?

I loved learning mythology when I was younger - the Greek gods, the Roman gods, the Egyptian gods - the stories were fascinating and entertaining. I still feel that way. If you do too, then I invite you to share an amazing experience with your child of any age (I tested this on my own 12 and 15 year olds). Open up Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart's Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods & Heroes and you'll know what I mean as the soon as the giant pharaoh unfolds and pops out of the pages. This pop up book is not for little kids. It includes a wealth of information about gods and mythology from around the globe together with the most breathtaking and intricate pop-ups imaginable. When my kids turned the page and I knew the castle in the sky atop Olympus was coming, I told them to brace themselves and then thoroughly enjoyed hearing them ooh and aah in unison. Such a great book on such a favorite topic - in a volume that is meant for a shared experience. It's no wonder that the kids (15,000 from across the country) who determined the finalists for the Children's Choice Book Awards chose this one! One entry tells the story of the Polynesian volcano goddess Pele and she seems to come alive as she literally pops out of the book.

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