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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in childrens books
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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Ife: Oh, that's terrific! I can't wait to see it.
  • Ife
    Ife says #
    Great news! I contacted the author and she said that she is working on a Treasury of Norse Mythology. She also loved my idea on Ja

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Unlike Greek mythology and even Egyptian mythology, the Gods and heroes and lore of northern Europe appear rarely in books aimed at children. This is unfortunate, as Norse mythology is rich with wondrous tales, grand adventure, amazing Gods, and tragic but noble heroes. There are several picture books that I recommend though, as well as chapter books and teen books and a few activity books; there are also some general mythology books which feature good sections on Norse lore. These would all make great additions to the private libraries of Heathen families, or even lending libraries maintained by particular Kindreds.

There are several picture books which the youngest children will enjoy; some retell a single myth while others focus on a specific Deity or hero. First is Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Norse by Leonard Everett Fisher* which features short, encyclopedic entries on the Deities along with beautiful full-page chalky illustrations, a map, and a pronunciation guide. Iduna and the Magic Apples by Mariana Mayer and Laszlo Gal, which I profiled in a previous column, retells the story of that Goddess's kidnapping and rescue. The Adventures of Thor the Thunder God by Lise Lunge-Larsen (author of the wonderful Gifts From the Gods) and Jim Madsen, is a humorous and exciting collection of that God's most well-known stories, while Shirley Climo and Alexander Koshkin's Stolen Thunder: A Norse Myth focuses on Thor's quest to reclaim his lost hammer from the Frost Giants. Leif the Lucky by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire is a biography of the famous explorer, while Sister Bear: A Norse Tale by Jane Yolen and Linda Graves is a folktale featuring a spunky heroine, an adorable dancing bear, and some terrible tattooed trolls.

For those interested in collections of short stories -- which work great as bedtime reading -- Favorite Norse Myths by Mary Pope Osborne and Troy Howell collects fourteen tales (including some lesser-known adventures); it is unfortunately out of print, but copies are readily available online and at your local library. It's worth tracking down just for Howell's stunning paintings.    

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Shirl: if I missed any good ones, let me know. … Like I have any room on my book shelves ….
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thank you for this treasure trove of words and pictures, and the recommendation for Willy Pogany's work for those who don't know i
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Tim: glad I could add to your father-son reading list. If you have any favorites that I missed, please let me know.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Paganism is sometimes labeled an "earth religion" and "nature-based religion" in the mainstream media. That label is ... inaccurate. Not incorrect, but too broad a generalization. For many Pagans, nature is vitally important, even the focus of their devotions. Other Pagans have a general concern for the environment, no greater or lesser than that of anyone else who watches the news and the weather. And still other Pagans have no interest in the natural world at all.

I personally straddle the amorphous line between the first and second. As an Hellenistai, I see the world as infused with animating spirits. Nymphai inhabit trees, rivers, mountains and meadows. Great Gods such as Artemis and Dionysus and Hekate and Persephone walk about in the world. Indeed, the Earth herself is a Goddess, Gaea.

This sense that creation, nature, the earth, was something wonderful and amazing was instilled in my at an early age. I played hide-and-seek beneath the apple trees in my backyard, spent hours building snowmen, and did my best to protect every spider, bird, cat and dog that crossed my path.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_paperdolls.jpg

Title: Goddesses Paper Dolls

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  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Neat!
  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Hope: aw, just tell him its a paper doll collection of great role models for your niece.
  • Hope M.
    Hope M. says #
    OMG i must have this!!!! One for myself and one for my niece, think I can sneak it past my brother who thinks Witches are weird

Demeter. Persephone. Hades. Three names well-known from Greek mythology. Like Perseus slaying Medusa, or Theseus with his ball of thread, the story of Persephone's descent to the Underworld* is one known even outside Pagan communities. The details might be lost, but most people can recite the broad outlines of the tale: Hades kidnaps Persephone and takes her down to the Underworld and her mother, Demeter, is so upset that she withholds her blessings from the Earth. Winter sets in. Only when her daughter is returned does Demeter  allow the crops to grow again.

Like I said: broad outline. There are many, many different ways to interpret this myth -- coming-of-age tale, the reason for the seasons, origins of a mystery tradition, incorporation of a foreign Deity into the indigenous pantheon, and so forth. There are also different versions of this myth -- ancient, modern, feminist, and even (re)written Christian morality plays.

The story often appears in children's collections of Greek and Roman mythology. One of the oldest which has been continually reprinted is Nathaniel Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales. Originally published in 1853, Hawthorne (who uses the Latin Deity names) explicitly notes in his introduction that he sought to render the old myths "presentable to children." He continues: "These old legends, so brimming over with everything that is most abhorrent to our Christianized moral sense. [....] was such material the stuff that children's playthings should be made of! How were they to be purified? How was the blessed sunshine to be thrown into them?"

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  • Sharon Fargo
    Sharon Fargo says #
    After the birth of my daughter three years ago I was filled with so much joy that it was almost painful. Still am. Shadowing that

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_orpheus.jpg

Title: Orpheus

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Title: Iduna and the Magic Apples

Publisher: MacMillan

Writer: Marianna Mayer

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In my previous column, I highlighted some of the best collections of Greek mythology currently available for children. This time around, we'll take a look at some of my favorite single-story titles. Many of these are picture books, retellings of classic tales with beautiful illustrations. A few are novel-length classic or original tales, aimed at slightly older children.

I stumbled across Cupid and Psyche by M Charlotte Craft and KY Craft in a bookstore many years ago and instantly fell in love with the artwork (seriously, if you need a devotional image of Persephone, look no further). I have made a point of picking up anything illustrated by KY Craft ever since. Of course, the younger Craft's storytelling skills are just as wonderful; she does an excellent job of presenting Psyche as a positive role model, a brave woman determined to correct her past mistakes and win back her happiness. (Ages 5+)

And, when I found out that KY Craft had illustrated Pegasus by Marianna Mayer, it was immediately added to my collection. Again, if you are looking for devotional artwork (Athena, in this case), look no further. In addition to the wonderful illustrations, Mayer presents belief in and devotion to the Deities as a natural thing, not the oddities of a primitive people. I love the sequence in which the devout Bellerophon is rewarded for his piety and courage by Athena. Of course, the battle scene is pretty darn cool, too. (Ages 5+)

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[There are more greek mythology books aimed at kids than I could possibly cover in a single column. So, let's start with a few of my favorite collections and move on from there, shall we? :)]

For many people, mention "greek mythology" and "children's books" and their thoughts immediately turn to d'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. It is the standard text for public and school libraries, and for many personal libraries. Not without cause, either: Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire crafted a timeless, skillfully-told, beautifully-illustrated book. That cover is immediately recognizable, and many of the interior illustrations have stayed with me since the first time I cracked that cover.

It is not, however, the only book on Greek mythology for children.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

When I was a kid, I devoured books on ancient Egypt. I was fascinated by the Gods and Goddesses and mythology and great temples and pyramids -- and especially by stories of female Pharaohs such as Hatshepsut and Cleopatra. While my spiritual path eventually led me to Hellenismos, rather than Kemeticism, I continued to remain intrigued by that land and its culture. As a result, I ended up with a nice collection of books about ancient Egypt, a number of which are aimed at kids (and the young at heart). Below are a few of my highly recommended favorites, in order roughly according to reading level.

Tutankamen's Gift by Robert Sabuda (ages 5+) is a wonderful, uplifting tale. A small, frail child, Tutankhamen loves the beautiful temples of Egypt. He is greatly saddened when a new Pharaoh comes to power, outlaws the worship of the Gods, and begins to dismantle the sacred sites. Gorgeous papyrus illustrations accompany the simple text; I particularly love the scene in which the Gods, in the form of the wind, whisper to Tutankhamen. A great introduction to an important Pagan historical figure.

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Title: Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia

Publisher: Holiday House

Author: D. Anne Love

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  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan says #
    @Hunter: the only two works of fiction of which I am aware are "Flow Down Like Silver" by Ki Longfellow; and "Hypatia, or New Foes
  • Hunter Liguore
    Hunter Liguore says #
    Very cool. Just watched "Agora" with R. Weisz and started to look for some fiction on her. Thanks for the lead.

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