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Monday, July 28, 2014

Two Tales Of Twins From Ancient Greece And Rome By Ursula Dubosarsky. Armidale, Christmas Press, 2014

This is the third publication by Christmas Press, and just as beautiful as the others. Like the first two, Two Trickster Tales From Russia by Sophie Masson and Two Selkie Stories From Scotland by Kate Forsyth, it's written by a respected veteran writer of Australan children's books. 

Unlike the first two, it's taken from mythology rather than folk tales and mythology is different. It can get nasty. More kudos, then, to Ursula Dubsarsky for managing to adapt stories about characters who in the original myths were not particularly sympathetic, for children! The two stories are about the childhood of Apollo and Artemis and that of Romulus and Remus. It does have to admit that the story of the twins who founded Rome is not one with a very happy ending, but manages to avoid telling the young reader that Romulus murdered his brother. For the Romans, it was terribly important, the story of their founding, and the killing was just a part of it. Myth and legend can be nasty, simple as that.

The art by David Allan is gorgeous, well worth the price of the book, even if it weren't for the stories.

Read it to your young children or let the slightly older ones read it for themselves.



Ursula Dubosarsky said...

Sue, thanks for this very friendly review - and yes, I did stop the story just short of sibling murder! I wouldn't have if it was integral to the part of story I was telling (concentrating on the childhood/babyhoods of the mythic characters.) As you wisely noted, it can be pretty hard to bring small children into some of these marvellous enduring tales because they are so violent, so extreme - often of course laced with quite extreme and bizarre sexual violence. So that is why I decided to concentrate of the childhoods of the gods, which were not without their extreme elements, but which I thought that young children could more identify with and enjoy. Anyway, what a LONG comment - my apologies. I found the project very interesting and simply love David's illustrations. So thank you again for taking the time and insight to review it.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Hi Ursula, welcome to my blog! Glad you liked the review.