Thursday, October 18, 2012

Book Review of Persephone, written by Sally Pomme Clayton

I found a lovely book this week at the library and decided to pick it up after speaking to my daughter's teacher.  They are discussing mythology and she had told the class the story of Persephone.  It was a happy coincidence that I found Persephone written by Sally Pomme Clayton and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers prettily displayed on the new book shelf waiting for someone to pick it up.  I thought, what a splendid book to start my children off with an understanding of mythology.

Sally Pomme Clayton (link to her site) has retold the ancient story of the abduction of Demeter's daughter in an appealing and poetic way.  Sweet, innocent Persephone, plucking flowers in the spring meadows is herself plucked by the dark and mysterious and somehow dangerous Lord of the Underworld, Hades.

Virginia Lee (link to her site) is the talented illustrator whose soft paintings evoke a feeling of timeless eternity, perfect for this story of the changing seasons.  Demeter's distress and grief, Persephone's sadness and Hades mystery are delicately portrayed in the full spread illustrations.  I found myself swept away by the story and the magnificent artwork, lost in the soft earthen tones, delicate faces and intricate details which so poignantly add to Ms. Clayton's words.

My children enjoyed the story and I had an opportunity to talk to them about how Greek mythology has shaped our western literature and the commonality of the deities in many ancient religions.  We also discussed how the religious beliefs of ancient cultures compare and contrast to our own Christian beliefs.  And I found the brief synopsis of the significance of the myth at the end of the book a nice way to help children take a first step into these foundations of western literature.

Spend some time in the misty far away memories of an ancient culture  resurrected by Sally Pomme Clayton's lush prose and enlivened by Virginia Lee's gorgeous illustrations which draw us into that far away place of myth and story.  You can find Persephone at Amazon or your local library.  Other books by Ms. Clayton are Greek Myths: Stories of Sun, Stone and Sea, Tales Told in Tents: Stories from Central Asia and Rama and Sita: Path of Flame.

I would love for you to leave a comment about this review and let me know if it was helpful.  Also, please suggest other picture books that you have read.  I am always looking for beautiful books to share with my children!