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***The First Olympic Games

A Gruesome Greek Myth with a Happy Ending

retold by Jean Richards

illustrated by Kat Thacker

Reviewed June 23, 2004.
The Millbrook Press, Brookfield, Connecticut, 2000.  36 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (E RIC).

Here’s a presentation for young readers about how the Olympic games began long ago.  The only problem is that the myth involved is indeed gruesome.  How can you present this myth for younger readers?  Jean Richards does a wonderful job with her authorial voice:  “Once upon a time, long ago in ancient Greece, there lived a man who was not very nice.  You will soon see why he was not very nice.”

Later on, when Tantalus gets the idea to chop up his son, Pelops, and serve him as stew to the gods, she says, “And then Tantalus had a terrible idea, a horrible idea.  Remember, I told you he was not a very nice man.”

The gods bring Pelops back to life and grant him favors, and he ends up being an important part of the beginning of the Olympic games.

After the story of the myth, the book goes on to tell how archaeologists discovered the ancient fields of Olympia and decided to revive the Olympic games.  Of course, it’s perfect reading for this summer’s Olympic games in Greece once again.

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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