The Beasts in the Jar (Greek Beasts and Heroes) by Lucy Coats and Anthony Lewis

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The Beasts in the Jar (Greek Beasts and Heroes) by Lucy Coats and Anthony Lewis

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A superb introduction to the Ancient Greek myths and legends. Keeping each story as a standalone tale makes it much simpler to keep tabs on everything, without ever feeling like it's dumbed down. You don't have to collect the whole series, but you'll want to. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 80 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Orion Children's
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1444000658

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Atticus the sandalmaker is heading to the great storytelling competition in Troy. On his way, he meets a number of people and, always eager for an opportunity to hone his skills, relates to them tales from Ancient Greek myths and legends. The beasts in the jar of the title? Pandora released them from what we mistakenly call her box.

We're suckers for the old myths and legends here at Bookbag, and are always keen to get a fix of Zeus, Gaia, Prometheus and Uranus. Lucy Coats' Greek Beasts and Heroes series is a fabulous introduction to them for confident readers. Having Atticus' adventures as the overriding narrative means the myths are told as short standalone stories - perfect for bedtime reading, although you'll probably have to read just one more. By keeping them separate, even jumping around in chronology somewhat, it means children don't have to keep track of all the characters and how they interact. Because they don't have to, they will just make the necessary connections at their own pace.

The writing is direct and punchy, allowing the myths to shine. Anthony Lewis' illustrations accentuate rather than dominate, and help set the scene wonderfully. It's the sort of book that you could get completely hooked on and plough straight through, wanting one more story after another. Thankfully, when you get to the end, there are more in the series to get your teeth stuck into. The Magic Head, The Monster In The Maze and The Dolphin's Message are available now, with four more books following in May 2010 and the final four in August 2010. More details are at www.lucycoats.com.

Series can often be a dirty word in children's books - focussed more on the collecting, rather than the quality. However, the quality in the Greek Beasts and Heroes is top notch throughout the first four books. There's no hard sell, just offering more of the same. Although Atticus' story does link everything together nicely, there's no real reason why you couldn't read the stories out of order, or indeed just pick up any one of the books. It'll make for a great set to own and read again and again. I can't wait for the rest of them! Highly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending them to Bookbag.

If you enjoyed The Beasts in the Jar, take a look at The Orchard Book of Swords, Sorcerers and Superheroes by Tony Bradman and Tony Ross. For something a little different, check out our Top Ten Retellings of Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales. The Game by Diana Wynne-Jones is also well worth a look. Slightly older readers will love Voices (Annals of the Western Shore) by Ursula K Le Guin. If you want facts rather than myths, The Comic Strip History of the World by Sally Kindberg and Tracey Turner comes highly recommended.

Buy The Beasts in the Jar (Greek Beasts and Heroes) by Lucy Coats and Anthony Lewis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Beasts in the Jar (Greek Beasts and Heroes) by Lucy Coats and Anthony Lewis at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Beasts in the Jar (Greek Beasts and Heroes) by Lucy Coats and Anthony Lewis at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Beasts in the Jar (Greek Beasts and Heroes) by Lucy Coats and Anthony Lewis at Amazon.com.


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