Thanks to the popularity of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, Greek mythology is a hot topic in my middle school. Once students start reading about Percy’s adventure with the Greek gods in the modern world, they are ready to learn more about the original myths. George O’Connor’s series of graphic novels about the twelve Olympians is the perfect source for more information about the Greek gods and the myths that surround them.
Each book focuses on one of the twelve major Greek gods and goddesses and explores the connections between them. You can read about the first four books (Zeus: King of the Gods, Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess, Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory; and Hades: Lord of the Dead) here. The next two Olympians are Poseidon and Aphrodite.
Poseidon: Earth Shaker (First Second 2013)
Poseidon may have thoughts as deep and as unsearchable as the oceans he rules, but O’Connor gives us a glimpse into this mysterious god with first person narration. That’s right, Poseidon gets to tell his own story from his conflict with Athena to his obsessions with the heroes Odysseus and Theseus. Even though Poseidon chose the perfect realm for him to rule, he is never quite satisfied. And what is the deal with his affinity for horses? I appreciate the author’s note where O’Connor shares the difficulty he had in writing about Poseidon and the revisions he made in choices of point-of-view. Poseidon has always been one of my favorites (right up there with Athena). Now I understand his story even more.
Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (First Second 2014)
The goddess of love sure causes a lot of conflict among both gods and mortals alike. After springing forth from the ocean foam, Aphrodite stirs love (and its attendant jealousy) wherever she goes. Her adoring attendants, Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, tell Aphrodite’s story as they wait on her with grace, beauty, and adornment. Of course, you can’t talk about Aphrodite without including her husband Hephaistos, the sculptor Pygmalion, her mischievous son Eros, and the golden aapple that led to the Trojan War. Clever drawings reference other stories of Aphrodite from Adonis to Narcissus. And you thought she was just another pretty face.
As always in this series, the reference pages at the end are just as fascinating as the story. I love the Author’s Note, were O’Connor explains the joys and challenges of writing the book along with the choices he made in doing so. One page fact sheets on the major players give essential information at a glance, including modern references to the myths. For those who want to learn more, a bibliography points readers to additional resources. I can’t wait to learn about the next six Olympians.