‘A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys’ and ‘Tanglewood Tales,’ both books that retell classic Greek mythology stories, were written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, mainly known as the author of The Scarlet Letter. We’ve read those more than once when my children were younger, and still enjoy them a lot (though I did find myself skipping the ‘bridging” background plot that tied the telling of the actual stories together – it was really not important to anything – and just reading the stories.) The retellings of the stories are delightful, with beautiful prose. It is easy to think of these of ‘sanitized’ versions of the myths (Hawthorne’s goal was a kinder, gentler version – in the book the master story teller says the original tales were bent into ‘into shapes of indestructible beauty, indeed, but cold and heartless.’ Yet these retellings have a lot more warmth than you’d find in any book on Greek mythology, and I have been drawn into them since the first time I read them to my kids.
There are free Kindle versions available of both books, but one thing that made the books to extraordinary were the illustrations (which are lacking in the free versions.) These hardcovers are just lovely books to hold and own. The illustrations by Walter Crane for Wonder-Book are great. The illustrations by Virginia Sterrett (from the 1920’s) for Tanglewood Tales are among my favorites every,
Sterrett’s breath-taking art really needs to be seen in color (the illustrated version is available for under $ 1 for Kindle, but my gray scale Kindle display does not do the illustrations justice at all.) Luckily, you can read the whole book on the net, including illustrations, at this link:
To just look at a collection of Virgina Sterrett’s work, go here: