Gillian Cross is the Carnegie Medal–winning author of Wolf. She lives in England.
Neil Packer has illustrated several classic books, including One Hundred Years of Solitude. He lives in London.
While several graphic novels based on Homer’s Odyssey have appeared in recent years, this substantial volume retells the tale in a more traditional narrative, illustrated with idiosyncratic artwork. The book’s handsome design features broad pages, heavy paper, and generous use of space to set off the type and illustrations. While Cross’ text is more plainspoken than earlier versions for young people, such as Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Odyssey (1995) or Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Wanderings of Odysseus (1996), the power of the story lives on in her retelling. An appended note offers the writer’s perspective on what Homer accomplished and why the tale still moves readers today. Created using gouache, pen, and wash, Packer’s highly individual illustrations range from richly colored, intricately detailed paintings to silhouettes and monochromatic drawings. With elements that are often stylized, sometimes ornate, and occasionally grotesque, the artwork may not have broad appeal, but many will be drawn to its intensity and originality. A welcome new retelling of the epic poem. Grades 4-7.
-- Carolyn Phelan