The Mythology Handbook: A Course in Ancient Greek Myths



Lavish handbook introduces Greek characters and myths.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Explores the Greek myths in detail.

Positive messages

The Greek myths depict a range of godly and human attributes, both strengths and weaknesses. Readers are exposed to qualities such as bravery, strength, honor, humility, and devotion, as well as jealousy, aggression, violence, and infidelity.


Along with messages of morality and honor, the Greek myths are full of war, revenge, treacherous quests, and monstrous creatures. The stories reveal acts of violence, including torture, revenge, much battle, and death. A handful of illustrations in this book depict frightening creatures, raised weapons, and aggressive facial expressions, but no actual bloodshed. Stories are told matter-of-factly and don't linger on gruesome details.


The myths are laden with infidelities and children born out of wedlock.


No inappropriate language. There are many names and terms in this compact book, and a glossary would have been helpful.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The demi-god, Dionysus, and his Maenad followers become intoxicated by wine. Silenus also liked to drink so much wine that he had to be carried on donkey's back.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is both beauty and horror, love and violence, and honor and treachery in the Greek myths. Some of the illustrations could be frightening to younger readers, though no blood or slayings are shown. Parents may need to be ready to discuss the kinds of violence (fantastical verses realistic), the variety of relationships (mortal and immortal liaisons), the existence of humans as well as other races of creatures (Cyclops, giants, satyrs, etc.), and the moral lessons imbued in the ancient stories.

What's the story?

THE MYTHOLOGY HANDBOOK is presented as a course study by Lady Hestia Evans for her two children, Hector and Hippolyte. Lady Hestia Evans is an intrepid 19th century explorer (the year is 1837), and when her research abroad keeps her from her children longer than expected, she creates this handbook and sends it to them to help the kids love Greek myths as she does. The Handbook is divided into three main sections, with 25 lessons in all. The three main sections are, "The Immortals," "Gods and Men," and "Time of Heroes." Information covered includes the Greek gods, the Titans, some of the mythical stories, mythical creatures, hero humans, historical facts about ancient Greece, art and architecture, as well as a timeline, a family tree of Gods, Monsters and Heroes, the Greek alphabet, and a map of ancient Greece. Stickers are also included. Follow-up activities are offered at the end of every lesson.

Is it any good?


This handbook has a scrapbook quality to it, and is rich with sepia-toned, black and white, and color illustrations. There are letters from Lady Hestia Evans, Homeric hymns, and anecdotal sidebars sprinkled throughout the book. The information is an overview rather than an in-depth compendium of the mythical stories, and as such, some readers may be left wanting more. However, readers will get a viable introduction to the major gods and characters, as well as to the vibrant history and panoply of creatures, demi-gods, and human heroes.

The first few pages of the book are somewhat confusing as the reader is confronted with a Publisher's Note, a warning to all mythologists, illustrations randomly placed, and a hefty table of contents. Also, the type face of Lady Hestia Evans' letters is quite small, light, and difficult to read. Maps are also small and difficult to read. A glossary would have been a helpful touch, but there is much information and activity in this handbook to capture the attention of multi-aged readers -- as an introduction or a refresher to the Greek myths.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the Greek myths as stories but also as an ancient religion to people living thousands of years ago. What might it have been like to be alive back then, when gods were believed to interact with humans on a daily basis? Do you have a favorite god or goddess? Who and why?  Can you think of some English words or phrases that came from the ancient Greek myths? Can you identify any mythical creatures that you have met in contemporary stories, like Harry Potter or the Percy Jackson series?

Book details

Authors:Lady Hestia Evans, Dugald A. Steer, Clint Twist
Illustrators:David Wyatt, Ian Miller, James Kay, Nick Harris, Nicki Palin
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Candlewick Press
Publication date:March 10, 2009
Number of pages:80
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:8
Read alone:12

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Kid, 11 years old August 13, 2009
i think that this was a very well done book. this year we are studing greek mythology and it really got me ahead. if you have read this one than you don't need to read the original book. it's the same things
What other families should know
Educational value
Adult Written bymickey2010 June 13, 2009

i love mythology thxx alot

i love old historys very much plz let me see the book
Adult Written byAdultGamer December 8, 2009

No educational value in Greek myths?

I'm surprised that you didn't think this book had educational value. That would be the most important quality of this book, in my opinion. You can't pick up a book on Greek myths and be annoyed that it has...gasp...actual Greek myths! Sex and violence were a part of life in ancient Greece, so obviously they'd be part of their myths as well.
What other families should know
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