Monday, August 3, 2020

Reviews from the Children's Sections - Tales from the Odyssey Pt 1 and 2

One of my favorite genres and one that is the easiest for me to push aside is middle grade fiction. This year to make sure I get a little more children's and young adult fiction I thought I would designate the first Monday of every month Middle Grade Monday (though sometimes it doesn't end up working quite right) .  While a lot of my picks this year are classics I am trying to branch out a little bit and read new or at least recent releases.  Since it's heading toward the beginning of our school year (we home school semi-year round) I thought I'd talk about the hit read aloud book from last school year!

Goodreads:  Tales from the Odyssey, Part 1 and 

I've long been familiar with Mary Pope Osborne's books as the Magic Treehouse series is much loved and combines adventure and education in such a fun way.  I was unfamiliar with her retelling of The Odyssey but definitely willing to give it a try though I had some reservations.  I read The Odyssey in high school and don't remember much about it other then finding the prose a bit tedious.  I was worried that since this was a kid's retelling it would be a bit too simplified or would worry so much about cleaning up the subject matter that it would cut out all the adventure.  

I should have trusted Mary Pope Osborne!  We enjoyed reading this so much!  In fact my 10 year old who feels like reading independently is the worst kind of punishment actually picked this up to read a little on his own because he couldn't wait to find out what happened next.  For that miracle alone I give this 5 stars!  The danger and adventure are still there but in a much easier to read format.  There's a pronunciation guide and map in the back which was useful.  The Odyssey is a violent story and this retelling still has all the violence but does cut down on the gore and intensity.  Sailors still get eaten by a cyclops or sea monsters or whatnot and walls are occasionally splashed with blood but while it's very clear what happens to everyone it lacks intensity or excess description.  I don't think this would be a good read for younger elementary and probably wouldn't be a good read aloud for a bedtime book especially for a sensitive child or one with a vivid imagination.  However, my 10 year old who is on the sensitive side didn't find this at all scary - just exciting.  He was actually sad when we read the last page.  

I would recommend this for older elementary children or kids who are not quite ready for Harry Potter or Percy Jackson but are close.  Honestly, if you have never read The Odyssey or have but don't remember and want a refresher I would recommend this version for adults too.  This was a surprise hit at our house and if you are wanting to teach some of the Greek legends to your kids (or are wanting to brush up on your own) this was a great set of books.


  1. They sound great, and anything that makes a young reader want to pick it up on their own sure deserves 5 stars.

  2. I love the original Odyssey, but I know how intimidating it can be. I love this idea as an introduction. I will have to look into it for Mouse.

  3. What a great recommendation, Katherine! Glad this one worked so well for Will:)). I've just come across a lovely series of books he might also enjoy, Ali Sparkes' Shapeshifter series, featuring a youngster who changes into a fox. I'm going to get this for Oscar...

  4. This looks like it could be interesting!

  5. Kids would certainly love those covers. I'd have grabbed them from a library at that age!