By Matt Berman,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Greek myth has some intense aspects; OK for older kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Good introduction to myth, especially for girls who may rejoice at learning about such a strong female hero. May inspire readers to check out other myths -- see our recommended book list for some other good introductions to Ancient Greece.
Retelling of a Greek myth focuses on a strong, tough woman hero who faces some tough challenges and dilemmas. She finds control in her world, even if it means living in a very different life.
Positive Role Models
Atalanta is a strong woman who uses her strength, brain, and heart. Because of her choices she ends up with a very different life, but she is accepting of it.
Violence & Scariness
References to centaurs raping women. Atalanta kills two centaurs with a bow and arrows, shoots a boar, and forces those who lose races with her to die. A queen hangs herself.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Reference to an "elixir of convulsive lust," a mention of pubic hair, Hippomenes and Atalanta have sex, not described but clearly referred to (they "lay entwined," etc.)
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Atalanta and others drink wine.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a retelling of Greek myth. There are clear sexual references here -- hard to avoid in Greek mythology -- though not really described. There's also some violence (Atalanta kills two centaurs with a bow and arrows, shoots a boar, and forces those who lose races with her to die. A queen hangs herself). The book has a somewhat casual attitude toward death, also typical in myth.
Where to Read
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
Atalanta is abandoned as an infant, and the goddess Artemis causes her to be raised by bears. She is then taken in by a village and becomes a great runner and huntress. She takes part in the Calydonian boar hunt, causing the death of several of the huntsmen who argue over her presence there. Upon her return she is summoned by her father, who turns out to be a king, and ordered to marry, even though she is an acolyte of Artemis, pledged to chastity. She agrees to marry whoever can beat her in a race -- but if she wins the man must die.
Is It Any Good?
This is a straightforward retelling of the Atalanta myth in novel form, and it's enjoyable and action-packed. Though it lacks the humor and cleverness of author Stephanie Spinner's other novelized myth, Quicksilver, Atalanta was never as witty and snarky as Hermes, so the tone fits the subject. This book hews closely to the original stories (and even including an obscure episode that comes after the traditional ending of the myth), making it useful for classes studying mythology.
What humor there is, is provided in the arch commentary of the gods and goddesses that appear from time to time. Spinner also resolves one of the more troubling aspects of the original myth -- that Hippomenes seems to win the race by cheating. In this version, Atalanta clearly knows what he is doing.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Greek myths. Why do we still study these stories? How are they relevant to our lives today? Why do you think modern authors are interested in retelling these stories?
What do you think of the violence here? Is it easier to handle in the myth context than if you were reading it in a modern, realistic novel?
- Author: Stephanie Spinner
- Genre: Folklore
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: November 6, 2005
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 12
- Number of pages: 177
- Last updated: July 12, 2017
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Best Mythology Books for Kids and Teens
Fantasy Books for Kids
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate