Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Story Time - Trojan War Edition

As regular readers doubtless recall (perhaps with some fatigue) I've been working on a long term project of writing a collection of the "great stories" from history (and mythology and literature) for children.

For the last month and change (shocking how long these things can take) I've been struggling over turning the Iliad and Odyssey into short childrens versions. In some ways, this has been made more difficult by the fact I've been re-reading the Iliad as I go along, which results in lots of "I can't leave that out!" thinking.

Anyway, I finally got this to something like a finished state, and I've been going through reading the stories aloud to our eldest daughter as bedtime material. However, she's five (at the bottom of the intended age range) and is willing to sit back and listen to anything from Goodnight Moon to selections from Njal's Saga, so I'm not sure that the fact she keeps listening is actually a sign of success, or just general receptivity to reading. Plus she doesn't really have any feedback on whether everything makes sense, is exciting, etc.

So, a request for anyone out there with kids somewhere around 5-9 who's willing to do some experimental reading: I'd very much appreciate it if you'd read over some or all of the following and let me know if these seem like something that your child would enjoy. Better yet, if you can read them aloud to kids and let me know what their feedback is, I'd appreciate it even more.

The Trojan War: A Blind Poet Named Homer

The Wanderings of Odyssues:

The one thing I haven't finished yet is adding a list of good outside reading (picture books, story books and chapter books dealing with the Trojan War and Odysseus which are recommended if one wants to read further). I have a few old favorites from my childhood, and a bunch of stuff I picked up at the library that I need to look through, but if you have suggestions, do let me know and I'll include them. (Do please note the length and age level.)


John Farrell said...

I'll see if I can try one of these out on my older daughter. She's 6 and enjoys Tolkien's poems as well as some of the Bible stories adapted for children(Joseph and his brothers).

What I discovered, to my delight, however, is that she really likes some of the stories I also enjoyed in one of the old Catholic school readers (More Streets and Roads) which I managed to track down online.

But I'll let you know what she thinks. Fortunately, she's at the point she doesn't need pictures to go along with the story....

Crimson Wife said...

I had my 5 yr old DD, who is an advanced reader, read 3 of the selections: "A blind poet named Homer", "The face that launched a thousand ships", and "The Trojan Horse". She stumbled a bit over the Greek names and some of the more complex vocabulary I had to explain to her. She got the main gist of the story though.

I did wonder why you chose to call the Prince of Troy "Alexander" rather than the more familiar "Paris" and why you chose to leave out Cassandra's warning about the Trojan Horse since that's a pretty famous part of the story.

Overall, however, I think you did a great job turning a very complex adult story into an understandable kids' version.

Darwin said...

Crimson Wife,

Wow. Your five your old reads much better than ours. (She only reads stuff like the Little Bear books herself.)

On Alexander vs. Paris, I'm thinking there was some other reason as well, but it was mostly that Paris Hilton was in the news so much when I was writing the stories that I thought the Alexander varient would be more successful as a boy's name.

On Cassandra, I wanted to have the guy eaten by the snake (coming from the Aeneid) and I guess I forgot about Cassandra in the proces... (Virgil doesn't make a big deal about Cassandra.)

That's one very impressive daughter you're got there. I'm glad she enjoyed the stories.

Darwin said...


Yeah, I've been finding myself searching out a bunch of the stuff I remember being read in order to try out on the girls.

Let me know what she thinks!

CMinor said...

Selections from Njal's Saga?

At five, I would have had nightmares for weeks!

Darwin said...

Well, I wouldn't really just any part of Njal's saga to the girls at this age... Just some parts.