Myths in 30 Seconds by Anita Ganeri

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Myths in 30 Seconds by Anita Ganeri

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Category: Children's Non-Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: By no means a lovely, attractive volume to entice one into myth, but this multi-cultural survey does succeed in its intentions of being brief and concise.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: April 2013
Publisher: Ivy Press
ISBN: 9781908005748

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Back when I was a lad, and reading books on mythology from my school library, they were nothing like this. There was no full-colour, no recaps, no homework suggestions, and certainly there was not the global PC-flavoured reach that broadened things out from Greek, Roman and the occasional bit of Norse myth. You'll excuse me if I say why in this instance all those changes aren't completely for the better.

The selling point of this series of non-fiction – sorry, information – books for the under-elevens is that they encompass the bare bones basic detail in thirty seconds. Or they're supposed to, but I've put this to the test, and even when we're not forced to struggle with both Izanagi and Izanami together, or any of the ridiculous-seeming Mayan names, the main bodies of text are probably forty seconds long. They do, however, succeed in telling their story in three or four succinct paragraphs.

But the book doesn't end there. On each page of main script there is a 'three-second' recap, and facing it a full-page illustration. This isn't a carefully considered artwork for each story, however, but a cartoonish, multi-captioned variation on the text. Twice we're told they're beautiful – they certainly are not, and while I thought at first the second and third attempt to tell the same thing over again was the book doubting its own clarity, I will concede the fact that children learn different things in different ways, and these visuals may be of help to some.

There are also chapter introductions, factoids, and the homework suggestions you can easily see being repeated in primary school classrooms, bringing creativity and individual research (or the internet, at least) into play. There is also for every themed section a before-the-fact glossary, which is only partly useful, as it helps us pronounce only a tiny section of the script. All I knew about the Sidhe was I didn't know how to pronounce their actual Gaelic name, and still don't.

But this book is a success, more or less, if at times an unsightly one. It ticks all the edutainment boxes, and while it could have been better here and there – one myth at least has its crux point in the illustrated version and not the text – it will be useful for the teacher, and popular for the young scholar. Perhaps I'm getting old, though, but the plain black-and-white books I remember just looked so much better.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

Shelve this next to Monsters and Legends by Davide Cali and Gabrriella Giandelli which is a great look at fantastical monsters and creatures from myth.

Buy Myths in 30 Seconds by Anita Ganeri at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Myths in 30 Seconds by Anita Ganeri at

Buy Myths in 30 Seconds by Anita Ganeri at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Myths in 30 Seconds by Anita Ganeri at


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