by Mary Pope Osborne, published 2003
Book 1: The One-Eyed Giant
Book 2: The Land of the Dead
Book 3: Sirens and Sea Monsters
Book 4: The Gray-Eyed Goddess
Book 5: Return to Ithaca
Book 6: The Final Battle
“As rude laughter came from the courtyard, Penelope closed the shutters of her windows. She returned to her loom and began weaving. Desperate for help, she prayed for her true husband to come home soon, before it was too late.”
After making a rather poor selection for my grandson of an accessible children’s book about the Odyssey, I just stumbled on this amazing series by Mary Pope Osborne, and cannot praise them enough. In each children’s book of the series, she has taken the essence of each of the major stories/events in the classic Odyssey and rewritten them in simple, elegant, and clear language, allowing children of any age to encounter this classic. Her series has six separate children’s books in it, and they are not actually in the same order as the original Odyssey. For example, Book 5 contains the opening scenes of Telemachus and Penelope. However, if the purpose is to allow children to enjoy the stories on their own, the order doesn’t really impact the reader as much.
The other aspect of these books is that the goriness of some of the original is toned down so that younger children can read the books without nightmares. To be honest, I only read book 4 and book 5, but my guess is that the other books are equally user-friendly.
Bottom line: if you are looking for a good version of Odyssey, Mary Osborne’s are perfect. If you are teaching Waldorf 5th grade, these are splendid.