Before they were heroes! 'Rescue? Is that what you call it? Throw a rock and then run? And I bet that's as far ahead as you'd planned.' Penelope made a face. 'Boys! Always thinking about heroics and never about what needs to happen day to day.' Odysseus, Prince of Ithaca, has always been safe, sheltered, protected -- and bored! The Age of Heroes is past. The wars are over. The monsters have all been slain. Or so he believes. Are there any adventures left for a thirteen-year-old boy who wants, more than anything, to be a hero? His time comes when Odysseus, his best friend Mentor, a spoiled princess named Helen and her outspoken cousin Penelope are kidnapped by pirates. It is the start of an adventure-filled journey that leads them to the ancient island of Crete. There, Odysseus must face the deadly secret in the Labyrinth, where the Minotaur once devoured all who were unfortunate enough to enter. Now another, more deadly monster roams the maze. There the boy destined to fight in the Trojan War and survive the perilous voyage of the Odyssey discovers the hardest part of being a hero: living long enough to tell the tale.
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Jane Yolen is one of the acknowledged masters of fantasy today. She is the author of more than one hundred books for children and adults. She has won the Nebula prize, the World Fantasy Award, the Christopher Medal and the Golden Kite Award. Robert J. Harris was born and raised in Scotland. He studied Greek and Latin at university and has had a varied career. He designed the best-selling fantasy board game Talisman and is the author of numerous short stories.From Booklist:
Gr. 4-7. What was Odysseus like as a teenager? This swashbuckling, almost slapstick adventure imagines the epic hero as a 13-year-old who's at once brash, insecure, and wise. During a visit to his grandfather, Odysseus feels far from heroic when he botches a boar hunt. On the way home, rough seas throw him and his best friend overboard. A pirate ship picks them up, and coincidentally Penelope and Helen are prisoners on board. The resulting series of mythological obstacles and clever escapes takes the teenagers on a high-speed journey to Crete, where they confront the beasts in Daedelus' maze and head home, heroes at last. The cliffhanger chapter endings, snappy humor, and breakneck adventure are reminiscent of an Indiana Jones film, and the characters are richly drawn, with plenty of girl power to balance the boys' heroics. Well-integrated historical detail and an authors' note enhance this page-turner for middle-graders. --Gillian Engberg
f the proverbial science fiction readers are 12-year-old boys, where has all the sf for those boys gone? Let's travel back to the late 1950s and early 1960s. There we'll find a rich body of juvenile sf by the likes of Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Andre Norton, with titles such as Citizen of the Galaxy, Podkayne of Mars, and Beastmaster. Sheer adventure was the capstone of these early books, as it was in much of the adult science fiction of the day.
But as years passed, adult sf became more sophisticated, and realistic teen fiction, which began in the 1960s, flourished, with books like S. E. Hinton's The Outsider picking up on the real problems teens faced, leaving sf to wither on the vine.
A few wonderful books as well as some ordinary ones did appear in the decades following the 1960s. In the late 1970s, Anne McCaffrey, at the request of Atheneum children's books editor Jean Karl, wrote her Harper Hall trilogy--Dragonsong (1976), Dragonsinger (1977), and Dragondrums (1979)--which shares setting and characters with her very popular, ongoing Dragonriders of Pern series for adults. The Pern books, including the Harper Hall trilogy, may have the feel and sweep of fantasy, but they are solidly grounded in the sciences rather than magic goings-on: the planet Pern was settled by Earth people who used genetic manipulation to create dragons from native fire lizards.
Walker and Company made a stab at establishing a YA science fiction line in the late 1980s by publishing YA titles written by adult sf authors, among them, David Gerrold and Robert Silverberg. These books were a mixed bag, many showing clear signs of oversimplification. Douglas Hill's action-packed Galactic Warlord series had a short run in the 1980s, and in 1984 William Sleator came out with Interstellar Pig, the first in a long, successful line of sf works. His popularity, which isn't restricted to sf fans, probably lies in the quirkiness overlaying the scientific principles that drive his stories. Peter Dickinson's Eva (1989), which is still being read, was an innovative, cutting-edge futuristic tale. Such books were followed in the 1990s by a spate of stories about future dystopian societies, among them, Lois Lowry's The Giver (1993), Louise Lawrence's The Patchwork People (1994), Gloria Skurzinski's Virtual War (1997), Garth Nix's Shade's Children (1997), and Sonia Levitin's The Cure (1999).
One of the hallmarks of youth sf is a young protagonist. In fact, the age of the protagonist usually determines the age of the audience, and the younger the intended reader, the simpler the plot and theme, and the heavier the reliance on action. Daniel Pinkwater's manic tales, Eleanor Cameron's Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, published in the early 1950s, and Alfred Slote's My Robot Buddy (1975) come to mind with their definite appeal for the younger fan. The relatively short length of youth sf books gives authors less space to develop characters, plot, and themes. As science evolved, authors may have found it difficult to make increasingly complex scientific material accessible in a relatively short book. Young fans who craved and could handle science concepts simply moved on to adult science fiction.
As science fiction has declined, YA fantasy flourished. Many youth fantasies have stood the test of time and are read not only by teens but also by adults. Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea novels, which began as a trilogy for young people, are a good example, especially given the publication of Tales from Earthsea [BKL Mr 1 00], which was published for adults. Tales contains five stories that "explore or extend the world established by the first four Earthsea novels." The last selection in the book is intended to be the bridge between Tehanu (1990) and Le Guin's next book, The Other Wind, "to be published soon," presumably also as an adult title. Although the first four Earthsea books like Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising series, are quite sophisticated in concept, plotting, setting, and characterization, which may explain the decision to move Le Guin's new Earthsea titles into the adult market. Contemporary youth fantasy has increased in depth, characterization, and world building, witness Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy and Meredith Ann Pierce's Darkangel trilogy, resulting in a greater number being marketed to adult audiences in paperback editions with changed jackets. Then, of course, there's Philip Pullman's Golden Compass (1996), the first volume in His Dark Materials saga, which was announced with great fanfare by both the children's and adult books marketing departments of Knopf. The Harry Potter phenomenon has also attracted curious adults.
ll of that contributes to a good deal of crossover reading among those who like high fantasy. High Fantasy, whether for youth or adults, is usually written on a grand scale, in an elevated, often figurative style, and includes otherworldly settings, impressive characters, memorable themes, and a sense of wonder. Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and The Dark Is Rising, written during the 1960s and 1970s, are fine examples of youth high fantasies that have proven to be long lasting and well loved by both adults and young people. There are now a number of authors, primarily women, who write fantasy for both adults and youth--among them, Diana Wynne Jones, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Shirley Rousseau Murphy, Nancy Springer, Patricia C. Wrede, Jane Yolen. And let's not forget J. R. R. Tolkien--The Hobbit, a prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was written as a children's book. Youth science fiction simply has not kept up with an increasingly science-savvy and sophisticated youth readership.
What's the future for youth fantasy and sf? The gap between adult and YA fantasy will continue to narrow. As for science fiction, if young adults are reading adult books, do we really need dummied down sf just for them? Need I ask? Gillian Engberg
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Book Description Scholastic, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110439521246
Book Description Scholastic. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0439521246 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0157783