Grade 4-8–In his characteristic question-and-answer format, Davis takes on world myths and includes those of the South Pacific, Meso- and South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. The author touches on a number of stories and adventures from Aeneas to Enkidu and Gilgamesh to Shiva. However, the format, which may have served history or biography well, is a little out of place here. It interrupts the flow of language and story that is at the heart of myth. In his introduction, Davis relates how, as a fidgety fifth-grader, he was literally saved by a teacher who read aloud from The Odyssey. Readers would be well served to read that text or the D'Aulaires', books by Edith Hamilton, Joseph Bruchac, or John Bierhorst and, like fifth-grader Kenneth, be enchanted and informed by the myths themselves. There is a credible discussion of the differences among myth, legend, folktale, and fable; mythology, too, is identified as history, for that's what it was to many ancient peoples. Davis also weighs in on the universality of myth as one of the best ways to infer that we humans are more alike than different. Highlighted sidebars appear on almost every page–some are short summaries, some are links to other mythologies with common elements. Others give meanings to phrases and words like taboo and berserk that come from myth. All in all, this title serves as a kind of quick reference book–it helps situate a character, phrase, or idea. Once the identification is ascertained, direct readers to the real stuff.
Language English | Audio CD in MP3/Variable | 255 MB