JUNE 11:

  • Happy birthday Robert Munsch (Paper Bag Princess, Mud Puddle) and Satoshi Kitamura (Sheep in Wolves’ Clothing, UFO Diary).
  • In 1776, the Continental Congress appoints Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston to the Committee of Five to draft the Declaration of Independence. Read Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration on Independence by Dennis Brindell Fradin, illustrated by Michael McCurdy, and Rissa Bartholomew’s Declaration of Independence by Linda B. Comerford.
  • It’s Corn on the Cob Day. Read Corn is Maize by Aliki and The Life and Times of Corn by Charles Micucci.

According to Eratosthenes, a Greek mathematician and poet, on June 11, 1184 BC the city of Troy was sacked and burned by the Achaeans, ending the Trojan War. Although throughout the years, the very existence of Troy itself has been debated by scholars, one truth remains: Whether real or fabled, these events form the backdrop of one of the finest pieces of literature ever written, Homer’s The Odyssey. Believed to have been composed near the end of the eighth century BC somewhere near Ionia, the narrative poem focuses on the Greek hero Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Troy.

Various versions of The Odyssey have been created over the years, to make this story accessible to younger readers. In 2010 Gareth Hinds rendered an exciting version of this great story in a graphic novel format. Young readers watch Telemachus try to deal with his mother Penelope’s suitors; they find themselves trapped in claustrophobic illustration panels with the Cyclops; they see Odysseus on the sea, battled by the elements, as he tries to make his way home. Through alternating text blocks that provide the story line with frequent illustration sequences relaying the action, Hinds presents a great hero saga. Now Odysseus can stand beside Spider-Man and all the other action figures beloved to comic book readers. Yet at the same time Hinds protects the integrity of the original text.

The book, both hardcover and paperback, has been beautifully produced. Heavy paper keeps the extensive artwork from the other side showing through. The book has heft and weight; it feels important. Hence the entire reading experience allows a young reader, who finds graphic novels just their thing, to believe that this Odyssey story is something very special.

As a child, I devoured Classic Comics. Long before I could ever read the great works of world literature, I got a sense of their story and scope in a format that pleased me. Hence I came to them in later years with great excitement. “Oh, good, we get to read James Fennimore Cooper’s The Deerslayer,” I once exclaimed to my teacher because I had read the classic comic! I have no doubt that thousands of young readers will feel the same way after they pick up The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds. He has made this tale so accessible and enjoyable that it will become one of their favorite sagas—and one that they can return to, in different translations, again and again as they grow up.

Here’s a page from The Odyssey:

Originally posted June 11, 2012. Updated for .

Tags: Adventure, Ancient, History, Quest
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for The Odyssey
One year ago: Curious George


  1. suzi w. says:

    interesting. I have always had trouble with graphic novels (even though I LOVED the Archie Digests my dad would sometimes bring home) but I was just thinking that I wanted to re familiarize myself with the Odyssey, the story of Penelope unraveling the shroud each night fascinates me. I will have to see if we have this one at work. (oh the riches of working for a library.)


  2. G. Perry says:

    I was delighted to see this book reviewed today. Great choice Anita!

    I think many people are familiar with the general storyline of The Odyssey, but masses have never read it. It’s certainly the bases for a lot of writing, and I clearly see that story in my own early days story. So to speak.

    Homer has been on my Lifetime reading list for a long time, and I own a great set of the Odyssey and The Iliad by Fagles. But I have to admit I’ve taken a run at reading The Odyssey several times. (I was never introduced to many books as a child, and certainly not Homer.)

    I came across this book by Gareth Hinds accidently in a local bookstore some time ago, and as I looked through it, it occurred to me that as an adult, it presented a very really possibility that I might finally get through at least some version of the Odyssey. Well, I did. It was fantastic. Beautiful graphic art illustrations. It was easy to follow and actually FUN to read.

    Now I’m back working in the Fagles copy and enjoying it.

  3. mta says:

    Hey there, Anita!

    I actually just recommended Gareth’s book as summer reading in a video for Amazon. Here’s the link, which is kind of a big gulp. (How do I shrink this?)



  4. Anita says:

    Gordon and Tobin: How nice to learn that you both are enthusiastic about this book!

  5. Gareth says:

    Wow, what a lovely surprise this morning! Thanks so much, Anita — and to the rest of you for the nice comments.

    Tobin, I don’t see your video at that link. Would you try again? Here are some URL shorteners for you:

  6. Valerie says:

    Our Middle Years Program uses this GN as part of its lit studies when studying mythology. We love this book at our school!

  7. This version of The Odyssey looks appealing, especially the cover. My favorite version is THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS by Rosemary Sutcliff, generously illustrated by Alan Lee (Delacorte 1995). They also did BLACK SHIPS BEFORE TROY, The Story of The Iliad. Sutcliff’s prose and Lee’s watery watercolors are elegant.

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