Apollo: The Brilliant One (Olympians Book), by George O’Connor; FirstSecond Books, $17.99, 80 pages, ages 9-14.
Though beautiful, intelligent, and immortal, the gods of Ancient Greece were imperfect beings–Zeus had a thing for mortal women, Ares was a brutal bully, and Poseidon was wrathful and moody. Perhaps none embodied the spectrum of human behavior more than Apollo, son of Zeus and Leto. At once selfish, impulsive and cruel, handsome Apollo was the god of prophecy, healing, and poetry, and was the most widely worshiped of the Greek gods.
In this, the eighth book of George O’Connor’s Olympians series, Apollo’s greatest stories are recounted by each of the nine muses, including the god’s auspicious birth on the island of Delos, his many romantic misfortunes, and even the fateful contest of Marsyas and Apollo, where the unfortunate loser is flayed alive. O’Connor matches his vibrant illustrations with excellent, thoroughly researched writing that makes for dynamite reading. Back matter includes a glossary of terms, discussion questions, bibliography, and age-appropriate sources for further reading. Children reluctant to learn about Greek mythology will quickly reverse course after plunging into this or any other of O’Connor’s books, and die-hard fans will relish uncovering hidden details throughout.
Apollo provides a brilliant entry into the world of the Greek mythology, and reminds us that ancient stories provide a greater understanding of our culture and ourselves.