CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 8 . . . . October 21, 2011
These titles are among the latest additions to the “Crabtree Connections” series which now numbers 36 volumes. Each book has 13 chapters and a table of contents, a glossary, an index and a short list of books and websites for further study. The main body of the text is very brief and is supplemented by text boxes which provide additional information and trivia. Colourful maps, drawings and photos (many of them depicting ancient Greek art) enhance the text.
Ancient Greek Adventure is a bit of a misnomer. Told from the perspective of a young Egyptian boy who is now a Greek slave, this story is not really an adventure but an account of a trip to the Great Dionysia festival in Athens with the boy’s master. The boy describes the sights- a parade through the streets, the food and entertainment, the agora (marketplace), and the theater. He discusses the plays he is fortunate to watch in terms of comedy, tragedy, the actors and the playwrights.
Of the three titles, Go Greek! is the most sketchy. It provides little information about each topic, often just a short paragraph, and then offers instructions for an art project related to the topic. Some of the topics include pottery, food, theater, sports, home life, law, schools, toys and games, and soldiers. Especially disappointing is the chapter about myths and legends. There is barely any information here. Even the art projects are inconsistent in their appeal and not very practical. A few examples of these are: making a Greek pot (the reader will actually make a papier maché plate); making ballot tokens (not very useful); and making a chiton (tunic) out of fabric.
Sports Heroes of Ancient Greece is narrated by Adrastos, a Greek trainer. In this book, there are stories about several Greek athletes, perhaps the most interesting one being about Diagoras of Rhodes, a great boxer who was known not only for his athleticism but also for creating an Olympic dynasty as his sons and grandsons all became Olympic champions. Readers will be impressed by the story of Milo of Croton, a six-time wrestling champion who, as a child, is said to have carried a calf around every day to build up his strength. Also highlighted are the perks of being an Olympian (free housing, clothing and meals for life), and what the athletes’ “village” is like. Unfortunately, it isn’t until the glossary page that all of the ancient Greek Olympic sports are listed.
With gaps in the information and not enough detail, these books require some revision before being worthy of purchase. In their current form, they are not worth the price.
Ancient Greek Adventure and Go Greek! Not recommended.
Gail Hamilton, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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