CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 18. . . . May 9, 2003
Cronus was the strongest and most courageous son of Uranus and Gaia (Mother Earth). After defeating Uranus, Cronus became the supreme ruler of the universe. He reigned over his brothers, the Titans, who later became known as the old gods. This period was a happy time called the Golden Age. There was no fighting, no stealing, and no need for laws.
A hybrid of fact and fiction, Stories of the Planets presents a two-tiered look at the heavenly bodies. It has two introductions. The first explains the variation between the appearance and motion of stars and planets and includes a page describing binoculars and telescopes. The second introduction details the myths and legends that arose from ancient Greek and Roman beliefs about the world.
Nine sections comprise the main body of the book. Each consists of a retelling of the myth surrounding the god or goddess associated with a planet, and two sidebars: Planetary Notes, and Observing (e.g. Mars). A double-page spread follows with statistics for each planet. A further page gives a brief explanation of how to watch planets. A glossary and index complete the book.
The myths are retold in a straightforward, factual style, and the link with each of the planets is interesting. The reading level is fairly sophisticated for the publisher's designated audience of ages 7-11. Each planet's mythological story is accompanied by a full-colour drawing, but the book is sparsely illustrated overall, making it text-heavy for that age group of visually oriented readers. Page 8 is blank while 13 double spreads have little or no illustration. Clarification of the description of equipment for planet gazing, and the later explanation of that activity, could have been achieved with illustrations. The glossary contents are not highlighted in the text, and there are a couple of miscues: meteoroid is misspelled and "mortal" is defined as an adjective but used in the text as a noun.
The main text is focussed on mythology. However, according to the cataloguing data, one would find this book shelved with science books. The need to flip between three sections (Planetary Notes, Observing and Planet Facts) for facts on each planet may frustrate beginning researchers, making this an unlikely first choice. There are many more comprehensive books on planets alone which would serve this purpose better. This book may be of more interest as leisure reading.
Gillian Richardson, a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian, lives in BC.
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