Friday, November 5, 2010

Atalanta: The Race Against Destiny

This book tells a pretty exceptional Greek myth: girl is born and rejected by father who wanted a boy. She is left in the wilderness to die but is raised by a she-bear. Afterward, a family of hunters take her in and teach her to be human, but she is the fastest, strongest human ever. S0 she becomes a great hunter and goes to the Oracle at Delphi to hear her fortune. Warned of a disaster that would accompany marriage, she decides she does not need any man.

BUT, she is so beautiful that men throw themselves at her. So to give herself some peace she makes a contest where any man who beats her in a race gets to marry her, but anyone who loses is put to death. Not many men take her up on this opportunity, but still there is a fellow named Hippomenes, who has a plan and a few golden apples...

This rare example of a powerful, positive female in Greek mythology is retold in this entry from Lerner Publishing's Graphic Universe series. The story was done with an eye to historical detail in terms of the clothing and locales (no one who go on record to say if the gods and goddesses were portrayed accurately). It was written by Justine and Ron Fontes, a married couple who writes children's books and graphic novels. They have written a few other titles from this series and over 500 titles overall. The art was provided by Thomas Yeates, the artist of the Robin Hood entry in the series as well as a long-time comic artist who specializes in horror and fantasy tales.

It was difficult to find reviews for this book, but here is a rather short, glowing one from a younger reader on I felt that this was one of the stronger books in the series, especially with the attempts to make Atalanta more personable and human than the cardboard characters usually found in such stories. Also, the academic resources included in the book make it ideal for classroom use.

A short preview and more information about the book and authors are available here from the Lerner Publishing Group.

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