I Am Pan! (Roaring Brook Press,) is a retelling of the Greek god Pan’s myths presented in comic-book style, narrated with playful exuberance by Pan himself. Pan’s stories, and those of the related pantheon of gods, infuse Greek mythology with humor, energy, and personality. With stories taken from diverse sources, readers get a broad look at many myths, as well as a taste of classical ancient history. From Pan’s birth and introduction to the Greek gods, to his banishment back to Arcadia, to the grossly exaggerated rumors of his death, we meet grumpy Zeus, crabby Hera, dreamy Apollo, lovely Aphrodite, the bully Ares, sharp-eyed Artemis, the moon, the monster Typhon, Echo, Mount Timolus, and donkey-eared King Midas. Not a bad introduction to Greek mythology, and easily one of the funniest.
The graphic novel Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Chronicle Books) tells the story of Lupe Impala (skilled mechanic and brave heroine), El Chavo Flapjack (octopus and car washer extraordinaire), and Elirio Malaria (an expert detailer who happens to be a mosquito), three friends who set out on a journey to find their missing cat. In an uproarious mixture of meticulously researched pre-Columbian and Mexican folklore, wordplay in English and Spanish, Mexican pop-culture, science, mythical quest, and classic buddy-movie, illustrated with highly-detailed ballpoint pen artwork by Raul Gonzalez, the friends encounter a cast of characters that readers may recognize from the folklore of Mesoamerica, Mexico, and the southwestern United States. For readers unfamiliar with the culture, it introduces them to a colorful new world, yet one that has had significant impact on our modern culture. Equally important, Lowriders to the Center of the Earth celebrates the heritage of so many children growing up in the United States today. The fact that it is a graphic novel, the preferred genre of many younger readers, makes the story memorable and accessible.
The Princess and the Warrior, written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams), is a universal story of star-crossed love and a por qué tale, revealing the origin of Mexico’s volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl (Sleeping Woman) and Popocatépetl (Smoking Mountain).
The Storyteller, written and illustrated by Evan Turk (Antheum Books for Young Readers), reveals a world where stories are as vital to survival as water in the desert. Reminiscent of stories from The Thousand and One Nights, Evan Turk weaves a new, powerful multi-layered story that calls attention to the continuing importance of storytellers in Moroccan culture and to the value of a strong oral culture in general.