Saturday, 3 November 2012

Hercules, Champion of the World

Hercules, Champion of the World by Nigel Gray, illustrated by Heath McKenzie (Walker Books Australia)
PB RRP $ 14.95
ISBN 978-1-921529-89-4
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

In this hilarious and most entertaining book by Nigel Gray, children will learn about the legend of Hercules and his feats while laughing all the way through the book. It is geared to make a complicated story easy to remember and a pleasure to read.

Hercules is filled with annotated idioms, definitions of difficult words and explanations of phrases that some younger readers would otherwise be unable to understand. There is a lot of learning here presented in a tongue-in-cheek way.

Gray enjoys the freedom of wordplay and uses it excessively on purpose. But as we follow the twelve tasks set for Hercules by his jealous and cruel half-brother Eurystheus, there is no doubt about the success of the method chosen to present the story.

The illustrations are another source of entertainment. They are a story in themselves. The text is visually reinforced allowing the reader to view the characters and their reactions through facial expressions and body language, with some background entertainment added. The reader will easily retain the gist of the story and recall the major facts of the tale. There is also a map at the beginning of the book tracing Hercules’ journey through Greece and the Mediterranean for readers to refer to. This book is recommended for age 8+.

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