After a busy messy summer, we’re getting everything ready for the start of a new school and university year – and everyone knows the first step of tidying up is organising the bookshelves! So while we sort out our shelves full of myths and monsters, we thought we’d share some of our current favourites from the ‘beautifully illustrated hardbacks’ category. We’d love to hear yours!
Grecomania by Emma Giuliani and Carole Saturno is a HUGE hardback packed with information, illustrations, and lots of fold-out surprises all on the topic of Ancient Greece. From the same series as Egyptomania there’s so much for little hands to investigate – and plenty of facts and stories to keep older minds’ engaged. We have the French edition – but fingers crossed for an English one soon!
2. Hide & Seek History: The Greeks
Continuing on the theme of surprises, the jazzily illustrated hardback Hide & Seek History: The Greeks by Jonny Marx and Chaaya Prabhat comes with lots of flaps – sometimes flaps inside flaps! – which has kept the 5yo busy when we’re reading it together. The vibrant style captures the imagination across both the illustrations and the stories inside, from famous gods and goddesses to the cultural and intellectual achievements of the Ancient Greeks. A lovely all-round introduction!
3. Myth Atlas
Myth Atlas by Thiago de Moraes is an impressively comprehensive overview of mythology from all across the world, accompanied by fantastic illustrations. This one is a great way of sneaking in a bit of geography while discovering the gods and monsters beyond the usual Greece, Rome and Egypt – and for talking about your own local mythologies too. You’ll definitely discover some characters you haven’t met before!
4. Myths, Monsters and Mayhem in Ancient Greece
Any book with mayhem in the title is going to be a winner – and Myths, Monsters and Mayhem in Ancient Greece by James Davies does not disappoint! Get to grips with Greek mythology’s most famous tales in this comic-book style retelling. The illustrations in this one are superb and there are lots of giggles to be had. There’s also some fun information about how the Greeks thought these myths explained their world – and a great map showing the different city-states and their main mythological association (tempted to use this one in my own classes!)
5. Magical Creatures and Mythical Beasts
If you’re looking for something even more exciting than fold-out pages and flaps within flaps, then Magical Creatures and Mythical Beasts by Emily Hawkins and Victo Ngai is the book for you. Join Millie Mortimer as she travels around the world with her father, a renowned mythology expert, and find the hidden creatures on each page with the help of Millie’s magic torch. We absolutely love this one – especially as you get to visit the Giant’s Causeway, and spot (part of) the giant Finn MacCool!
6. Greek Myths and Mazes
Okay, okay, I know I’ve talked about Jan Bajtlik’s amazing (heh) Greek Myths and Mazes plenty before, but we still have a couple of mazes left to solve in our own copy – and it hasn’t bored us yet! We couldn’t possibly leave this one off our list.
7. Atlas of Heroes
Another fantastic option for combining geography with mythology, Atlas of Heroes by Sandra Lawrence and Stuart Hill gathers together worldwide tales of amazing feats, clever trickery, and superhuman strength. There’s so many heroes and heroines to discover – and they’re not all ancient!
My favourite part of this entire book has to be tiny clueless Aeneas sailing around off the coast of Italy (while also lying down?!?):
8. The Odyssey
We couldn’t have a Top 8 Mythology favourites list without including just one version of Homer’s Odyssey for children. But how do you choose from so many good options!? Well, not including the Provensens Iliad and Odyssey because it can be a little tricky to track down, Manuela Adreani’s Odyssey is probably the one we reach for the most now we’ve outgrown the Little Masters Homer. And that is because the (literally) huge illustrations are mesmerising – from the waves engulfing the helpless ship, to the terrible Cyclops devouring the men, and Circe turning the men into pigs. The story is pitched at kids in the slightly older age range – so the 5yo and I just enjoy looking at the pictures for now, and making up our own versions of the story to go along with it. But I could happily sit and read it myself!