HOMER’S THE ODYSSEY by Gillian Cross and Neil Packer,170pages, Candlewick Press
Review by Joe Taylor
Gillian Cross has taken the 3000 year old tale of Homer’s The Odyssey and has converted the verse of this famous story to simple prose. Her use of adjectives is spare, allowing Neil Packer’s divinely inspired art to pour oil on the fire of an already burning narrative.
For those who haven’t read the Odyssey since high school (especially if high school was thirty some years ago as it was in my case) it’s easy to forget just what a great story this is. It is the original adventure novel and the sire of the Young Adult genre.
This book would be the perfect choice for reading aloud to a class of elementary students, showing the bright beautiful pictures to what’s certain to be a rapt audience, or for sharing one on one at home. It’s the perfect seed to plant in their minds in preparation for the more difficult text they will surely encounter later on.
As an overworked adult, it’s a wonderful way to reacquaint one’s self with this great story without working through a lot of archaic verse, beautiful as that verse is. And to be truthful, children will be fascinated by Niel Packers images and pretty colors, but adults will find themselves searching over the details of his artwork marveling at the ability of a human being who can create something that beautiful.
His influences appear to be Japanese and Tibetan art, utilizing the colors that we know today were favored by the ancient Greeks.
Are you a collector of Illustration? Do you have bright little minds at home looking for a little adventure? Here’s a book that’s a must for any good home library and one, that if well taken care of, can be passed down to the next generation. Beautiful beautiful work.