Geraldine McCaughrean's scintillating way of retelling legend is why Susan Wise Bauer selects her renditions for us to read. We don't want these books to be presented as a dry lesson with a worksheet to follow, but as an amazing adventure! McCaughrean can do it! We've enjoyed her versions of at least four or five books (see below).
One more comment about the reading cycle: For all of McCaughrean's books, because they are written to a higher age group, when I read them to my elementary kids out loud, I do some fast editing. In Hercules, I left out that he was assigned the 12 tasks because he killed his wife, 6 kids, in-laws, and servants in a drunken rage. In her Gilgamesh the Hero, I left out that a naked woman's sweet kisses tamed the wild Enkidu. Let them learn all that when they're older.
Her books usually have no illustrations other than the front cover. However, many times when I was reading, my kids would suddenly jump up and run over to me, demanding to see the pictures because of the vivid descriptions. The chapters were a good length to read in one session to freshly bathed and pyjamaed kids. My younger daughter (2 then) came in and out of the room and looked at other picture books, but she was quiet because she saw that the older kids were enthralled.
Geraldine McCaughrean's talent is what makes these classics come to life- and coming back to them in a few years will be a joy and not something for my kids to be intimidated by.
Whenever I am able to pass something just excellent on to you, my dear readers, I will. I was thumbing through a catalog recently and found an AMAZING article on How to Choose Children's Literature. I was floored, and re-read it right away.
Teresa (Tracy) Dear