I have only one illustration for you all today, but it’s a whopper of an illustration and positively terrifying, which—-given the book’s subject matter—is a compliment:
Don’t you love that? Wait, there’s a monitor between me and you, so I can’t hear you, but if you love it as much as I, you can always comment below.
This comes from illustrator, painter, and printmaker Sarah Young, who lives in England. It is one of the many arresting illustrations from Greek Myths by Ann Turnbull (also British), published by Candlewick. Now, I had thought this was a brand-new title, but it just so happens that every link I see online, including the book’s very home on the Candlewick site itself, is saying it was released in November of 2010. The copyright info also states 2010. Color me confused. And slightly behind. Could it be that this one got lost in the stacks of books all over my home and I assumed it was slightly newer than it is? Yes, it could be. Either way, it’s a book I like. I happen to have an emerging seven-year-old who is downright obsessed with myths, particularly if they involve monsters and particularly if they’re Greek, and we’ve been enjoying this one. (Shh. Don’t tell on me, given that the suggested age range for this one is “grade 6 and up.”)
What’s particularly effective here is how Turnbull links the stories together. Here’s what she wrote in the book’s intro:
In this collection you will find a mixture of nature myths, hero tales, and stories of the struggles between gods and mortals. I have left out Odysseus’s travels and the Trojan War because these are separate story-cycles that deserve a book of their own. The more myths I read, the more I realized how many of them link together. Some stories, like Arachne, stand alone, but many others lead from one to another.
For instance, the book opens with the story of Arethusa. As Arethusa is fleeing Alpheus, having just become a stream, traveling in darkness, “under earth and sea,” she sees “the cold king of the Underworld, Hades, and beside him a young girl, his bride, crowned with a diadem. The girl was pale, and Arethusa saw in her eyes a fear like her own.” The next story is—you guessed it—Persephone’s. These are the first two stories of the first section, “Earth, the Heavens, and the Underworld,” followed by “Monsters and Heroes” and “Gods and Mortals.”
For her source material, Turnbull referred to early versions of the myths, ones collected by ancient Greek poets and historians. So, as she explains in the intro, readers will read that King Midas does not have a daughter and that Pandora opens not a box, but a jar.
Young’s mixed-media illustrations are by turns haunting and evocative. Oh, and as mentioned, hair-raising when need be. (I’m talking ’bout you, Chimaera. His eyes alone might have taken care of my nightmares for the next several years. I repeat, however, this is all good and effective and necessary. We are talking about a monstrous, fire-breathing, shrieking, hissing creature with a serpent-headed tail after all. Anything less than startling and hideous, anything that would have not scared the pants directly off me, would have been … well, to be professional and eloquent about it, lame-o. Medusa and her sisters might also make you soil your pants slightly. Again: GOOD thing.)
And I’m not exactly sure Young’s technique on the featured illustration today, but I love the marks on the creature’s back that look like strokes of paint done with her fingers. Such texture. I want to reach out and touch him. Well, kinda. He looks like he’s somewhat scratchy.
I hope, if you’re eating breakfast while reading, that the hideous Minotaur didn’t make you spill your hot coffee or tea, dear readers. If so, you may send me the dry cleaning bill.
GREEK MYTHS. Text copyright © 2010 by Ann Turnbull. Illustrations copyright © 2010 by Sarah Young. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.
As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.
1). I went this week from being that weirdo you know who never turns on her clunky ‘ol 18th-century cell phone (which lived deep in the recesses of my purse and never saw the light of day and which I only owned in case, say, my leg suddenly caught on fire or a mean dog were chasing me) to someone who owns an actual iPhone 4, which does everything but brew my coffee. (I am confident that, in time, it will do that as well.) I can now engage in that phenomenon that the young ‘uns call texting, and if you have the same phone, I can even call you all Jetsons-like, a call during which you can see my actual face ON A VIDEO SCREEN. Bless my soul, people. All this fancy-pants technology. And I’m always online — at all times, if this gizmo-thingy is with me. (This is something the balance of the rest of the world already experiences—at least if we’re talking the Haves vs. the Have-Nots—but I’m tremendously slow sometimes and generally do everything in life backwards.) To be clear, I refuse to perpetually have my head in the phone and text while I drive and other such hooliganism, but this does mean I can quite easily and zippy-quick read music blogs or listen and download music, which is all that really matters about this newfangled contraption. It also has a camera. The above photo is hardly remarkable and far from flattering, but it marks one of the First Photos Taken On My New Thingamajig. It features me smooching my five-year-old to death, which is how I spend approximately 77.777% of my days.
2). An unexpected valentine in my mailbox.
3). Hide spaces.
4). Reading the creepy Island-Where-Dreams-Come-True (or “Dark Island”) chapter in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with my girls (and the conversation about dreams it generated), not to mention starting Edward Eager’s Seven-Day Magic with them.
5). I have a little list of music kicks this week. I’m just gonna have at it below. I figure most people just disregard my musical ramblings and videos anyway (which is perfectly fine — we’re all busy people who don’t spend our entire days on blogs), but if you’re so inclined to hear some good new (in most cases) tune-age, here is what made me want to sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world this week:
* Early Johnny Cash demo, circa 1955! Click here. ‘Nuf said.
* Astonishingly, I failed to mention this when I saw it months ago. I’m all stunned that I forgot, since my love for Elbow is hard to put into actual words. This is from their forthcoming CD, scheduled to be released in early March. (I’m not x’ing off my calendar or anything like that.) This is exquisite and was recorded in a lovely and very well-equipped studio. It’s something you turn up and kick back and listen to with eyes closed (or not, if you want to see all the lovely instruments) with your coffee in hand. And just savor.
“Lippy kids on the corner again begin settling like crows … The cigarette scent, it was everything then … Do they know those days are golden?” Guy Garvey is a genius, I tell you. Also, I am in love with those piano notes at the very, very end.
* The music of The Low Anthem has finally entered my life. I’m slow, but I’m now (mostly) complete. Holy wow, they’re good. The below song from 2008’s Oh My God, Charlie Darwin makes me ache, particularly the last verse.
Their brand-new, to-be-released-next-week CD is still streaming today at NPR for free (and will stream there till Tuesday).
* Sam Phillips doesn’t make traditional music videos. Case in point: She’s so media-shy that you don’t usually even see her appear in them. Here’s a song off her brand-new CD. I could sit and watch that rain fall onto that lens ALL DAY. I could. It’s rather mesmerizing. Plus, what a great song, huh?
* Last one, promise: I fell straight for this song — without passing go and without collecting $200. You can click play there and listen. “All I need is some sunshine.” Indeed.
6). As if Mother Nature heard both me and Timber Timbre, the sun came out this week and the temps kicked it up a notch so that my daily walks weren’t so shivery.
7). My friend had a beautiful baby boy this week. He was late, which can make a very pregnant woman feel shouty. (I know this from my second pregnancy.) He is thoroughly beautiful, though it’s so early that I’ve only seen pics thus far.
Bonus Kick #1). Donuts with a friend in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Not just any donuts, mind you. Donuts that are the stuff of legend, evidently, in this part of middle Tennessee, and it was my first time at this donut shop.
Bonus Kick #2). Getting some stuff mailed off to friends this week. Finally. When you have things like a big, ugly writing deadline giving you the stink eye, accomplishing the simple tasks becomes a kick.
Bonus Kick #3). I really want to hang out with this German DJ dude. No really, he says (in another video) that music is his drug and that’s all, and I choose to believe him.
Have mercy, I’ve written a novella. Sorry?
What are YOUR kicks this week?