The Beautiful Stories of Life

The Beautiful Stories of Life Cover

The Beautiful Stories of Life

Six Greeks Myths, Retold

By Cynthia Rylant; Carson Ellis (Illustrator)

Houghton Mifflin, Hardcover, 9780152061845, 71pp.

Publication Date: May 1, 2009


Newbery Medal-winner Cynthia Rylant retells her favorite stories from Greek mythology, breathing fresh life into the tales of Pandora, Persephone, Orpheus, Pygmalion, Narcissus, and Psyche. The writing is lyrical and understated, a perfect tone for stories that introduce young readers to themes of love and loss, pride and forgiveness. Carson Ellis's elegant black-and-white illustrations lend an aura of beauty and mystery.

About the Author
Cynthia Rylant's gift for conveying the enchantment and beauty to be found in everyday life is seen in such award-winning books as Missing May, winner of the Newbery Medal; A Fine White Dust, a Newbery Honor Book; and The Relatives Came and When I Was Young in the Mountains, both Caldecott Honor Books.

Books she's written and illustrated include the much-beloved Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven.

Cynthia Rylant grew up in West Virginia. She now lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Colin Meloy once wrote Ray Bradbury a letter, informing him that he "considered himself an author too." He was ten. Since then, Colin has gone on to be the singer and songwriter for the band the Decemberists, where he channels all of his weird ideas into weird songs. With the Wildwood Chronicles, he is now channeling those ideas into novels.

As a kid, Carson Ellis loved exploring the woods, drawing, and nursing wounded animals back to health. As an adult, little has changed except she is now the acclaimed illustrator of several books for children, including Lemony Snicket's The Composer Is Dead, Dillweed's Revenge by Florence Parry Heide, and The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

Colin and Carson live with their sons, Hank and Milo, in Oregon.

Praise For The Beautiful Stories of Life

"Rylant’s clear explanations of relationships between gods and mortals as well as the underlying motivations and significance of each myth avoid condescension without sacrificing the details, richness and conventions of the original stories. Ellis’s formal black-and-white drawings are reminiscent of stylized classical Greek art and illustrate a dramatic moment from each myth. The small, square format completes this accessible and classy introduction to Greek mythology."--Kirkus Reviews

"Rylant offers simplified, accessible versions of the myths and curtails their more troubled meanings. Ellis’s soft pencil drawings bedeck this elegant-looking little book with visions of flowers, garlands, and comely maidens."--Horn Book

". . . hones six myths into clear, accessible stories for younger readers. Plainspoken and captivating, they draw readers into the sagas . . . The stories grab attention with intriguing introductions . . . Ellis, illustrator of the Mysterious Benedict Society books, employs delicate pencil drawings to render the characters amid the organic: flowers, fruit, leaves and twisting vines. The small format reflects the book's purpose: to be a pleasurable sampling of some well-known Greek myths, their ideas and morals distilled to their core."--Publishers Weekly

"The collection is fashioned to relate tales of love, pride, struggle, and triumph; Rylant has chosen a good complement of myths to retell, sticking to the standard versions of each one. Accompanied by full-page black-and-white illustrations and sprinkled with decorations, the whole package is nicely done. Readers who enjoy a good romance or just a well-told tale will be satisfied with this small book, and those looking for material for reports will find the necessary elements within. Collections needing fresh additions to their mythology section should consider this one."--School Library Journal

“There is fluidity in the telling . . . a useful contrast to more irreverent or raucous retellings, especially in a setting where the focus is on the message more than the cultural significance.”--The Bulletin