The Mighty 12 Superheroes of Greek Myth is a 48 page illustrated hard cover book by Charles R. Smith Jr. Each Greek god or hero is described across a two-page spread with a poem and corresponding colorful illustration. Opening with a description of Olympus, sections that follow include information about Zeus, Poseidon, Hades (including an excerpt on Cerberus), Hermes, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Haphaestus, Athena (with a mention about Medusa), Hera, and Dionysus. A handy “Who’s Who” reference guide is outlined in the back of the book.
The illustrations by P. Craig Russell are done in bright colors and muted pastels. With each dramatic illustration encompassing a full page or spanning across two large pages, they each manage to give the impression of being a full comic book cover with every detail capturing the viewer’s eye. The artfully depicted gods and mythological scenes portray both the fantasy and the horror simultaneously.
When studying children’s books and products that are sent to me for review, I always consult my resident experts — my own two young daughters. This book, published by Little, Brown Young Readers, was definitely geared more towards the reading level and interest of my six-year-old rather than my three-year-old. Specifically, it was the illustrations that most captured her interest and imagination.
The description of each mythological Greek character is closer akin to poetry than prose.
In a land mortals dread
where even gods fear to tread
lives Hades, the god
of the underworld and dead,
There were sections of the poetry that didn’t seem to flow well. It not only made it difficult for reading out loud to my children, but it also lost their attention in parts more than perhaps straight prose would have. The descriptions spare no expense with their horror and gory details, and this seemed to greatly appeal to my six-year-old daughter, while frightening my three-year-old just a touch. This is one of the books that my six-year-old now likes to have lying next to her in bed, so that she can flip through the pages before bedtime, lulling herself to sleep with tales and pictures of mythological gods and their dramatic power struggles.