Friday, April 12, 2013

Shelf Life [kids]

Heroes and Villains by Anthony Horowitz, 166 pages.

The stories of such legendary heroes as Achilles, Gawain, Beowolf, Theseus and Hercules - and villains such as the Cyclops and Grendel - are retold in Anthony Horowitz’s recently-published book of short stories, Heroes and Villains.
The battle between good and evil, with its heroes and villains, has been waged throughout time, place and culture.  The champions and evildoers portrayed in Heroes and Villains are from various times and cultures:  English, Greek, Polynesian, Scandinavian and others. 
In his stories, Horowitz is clear that heroes, like other people, aren’t perfect.  For example, Achilles, one of the best-known warriors of Greek mythology, is unpleasant, argumentative, often angry and sometimes even cruel. 
Some heroes have superior strength or speed; others use cunning and trickery to prevail, and one legendary knight, Gawain, is a hero more because of what he doesn’t do than what he does.
Horowitz’s introduction notes the ever-present link between hero and villain... “You simply can’t have one without the other .... How could you have Robin Hood without the Sheriff of Nottingham?  Where would Batman be without the Joker?”
Retold with humour and accompanied by black and white graphic illustrations, these action-filled stories of heroes and villains will keep readers – even reluctant readers - engaged.
Heroes and Villains is one title in the “Legends” series by Anthony Horowitz, who is also the author of the popular M16 Agent Alex Rider stories.  Other Legends titles include The Wrath of the Gods and Tricks and Transformations.

** Recommended for ages 9 to 12 years.

Horse Heroes by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, 124 pages.

Heroes aren’t always people.  Sometimes they are animals, such as horses.
Mythology and sports are populated with such famous equine heroes as Pegasus, Man o’ War, Seabiscuit, Secretariat and others.
However, horses in general can be considered to be everyday heroes because of the many ways in which they have helped the human race.  Our history is closely allied with that of horses.  These animals helped to open up new worlds by carrying settlers and their supplies to new lands.  They pulled wagons, stagecoaches, railway cars, and river barges.  For many years they were our main method of communication, carrying news and mail from place to place.  Up to and including the First World War, horses have carried soldiers into battle.... did you know that during World War I, one million horses were sent to the front but only 62,000 survived? 
Before fire trucks came on the scene, fire horses worked side by side with firefighters in cities and rural areas.  And before the mass production of tractors and other agricultural machinery, nowhere did horses work harder than on the farm. 
It’s safe to say that throughout history, few other animals have worked as hard for people as horses. 
Today, these animals are still serving people in various roles, including that of therapy horses.   
Did you know that a horse’s eyes are the biggest of any land animal’s (including the elephant), and that a horse can remember instructions for ten years or more?  Readers will discover many intriguing facts about horses in this book.
Intended as a “nonfiction companion” volume to Mary Pope Osborne’s Stallion by Starlight, a “Magic Tree House” book, Horse Heroes stands on its own as a very readable and informative resource about the history, behaviour and characteristics of these intelligent, loyal animals.  Photos, a table of contents, an index and a list of relevant web links are included.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.

This review appears in The Stratford Gazette on April 11, 2013. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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