Friday, April 29, 2011

Black Ships Before Troy by R. Sutcliff

Sutcliff, R. (1993). Black ships before Troy. New York, NY. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc. 125 pp. (Grade Level: 3rd-8th)

            This story starts with the wedding where evil Eris starts a conflict between three of the Olympian gods as to which of them is the greatest. Sometime later they take the question to a young man named Paris who decides Aphrodite is the greatest of them, and she grants her promise to give him a wife more beautiful than any other. A few years later Paris hears of Queen Helen and travels to her land to see if she really is as beautiful as everyone says. When he sees that she is, he convinces her to run away with him, and that is where the trouble really begins, for the king of Sparta, Menelaus, Helen's husband, finds out he lays war to Troy, ultimately destroying the city.
            This is an incredibly long story, but when it is being read it does not seem tedious or longwinded. The reader is pulled in, the tale woven so beautifully and intricately it is hard to remember it is just a legend. I think this would work as a great read aloud to the entire class; the words are written in such a way that it would suit them to be read aloud. There are morals woven throughout the legend, and some parts could be read as standalones, although I think it has its best effect when read altogether. The pictures are delicate, like the prose, and done in colored pencil, watercolors, or oil; I'm not sure. But oh, the writing of these stories uses such language it draws the reader in and does not let them go.

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