Everything Mythology: Begin Your Quest for Facts, Photos, and Fun Fit for Gods and Goddesses by Blake HoenaI know this will be shocking to those of you who have been following us for the last couple of years, but I LOVE all things “mythology”, so when Everything Mythology dropped on our doorstep, I was literally fighting my daughter for it! It seems ridiculous to say that myths have always fascinated me because in reality, mythology have been fascinating people around the globe since the dawn of man. Everything Mythology goes beyond the usual detailing of various myths from around the world and explores what myths are and what purpose they serve.
The book begins with a discussion of what a myth is as well as the different kinds of myths. The basic purpose of myths is to explain the world around us. When you think about it, modern day science has come such a long way in explaining simple things like weather, changing seasons, the nightime sky, and ocean tides for example. Before science, people came up with great stories or myths to explain these things. That is the specific purpose of myths, as opposed to folk tales (stories passed down person to person) or legends (stories that may be true but there is no evidence to support them).
Importantly, there is a discussion about how myths and religion overlapped in ancient times. This is why we see so many mythology-based stories talk about gods and goddesses and why you can still visit the temples built to honor specific gods or goddesses. Of course some are in ruins and many have been completely destroyed. Some of these beautiful temples and shrines are photographed and included in this book.
After these more general descriptions of myths, there is a section entitled “Gods and Heroes” which includes information about different gods and goddesses from various cultures including Japanese, Greek, Roman, Hindu, Norse, Amazon, and more. And, of course to balance out the book, there is a whole section on mythological villains and monsters and I must say some of those are pretty nasty! I could spend countless hours going through this book and describing all of the information included. This book is literally jam-packed with information, beautiful images, and lots of diagrams and information boxes. The layout is absolutely superb.
I do want to mention one more interesting fact included in the book. Did you know that The Hunger Games is based on an ancient Greek myth? Well, perhaps “loosely” based, but still! Think you know it?
My Bottom Line:
Everything Mythology is an absolutely great resource for kids who love learning about ancient myths and who want to have a deeper understanding of why myths were created, what purpose they serve, and the basic features they all share. This book is beautifully laid out with high-quality photos and images, large font in the headings (my eyes thank you, NGKids), and pages upon pages of interesting information. This may be my favorite National Geographic Kids book yet! I highly recommend it to children ages 8 and older (and adults who are a bit “mythology-obssessed”).
* This book was provided to me by the publisher free-of-charge in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. *
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The word myth comes from the Greek word mythos, meaning story or word. Myths usually depict several general conceptual ideas involving creation, nature and social values, according to professor Mary Magoulick of Georgia College and State University. Mythology allows modern man the chance to examine how our ancestors viewed the world. The oldest continuous human myth is the one the Aboriginal tribes of Australia believed that summoning the Rainbow Serpent would bring rain, according to anthropologist Virgina Luling in her book "Aborigines. Greek gods inspired three of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
All over the world there are extraordinary stories—stories that once upon a time were believed to be true but are today limited to the sphere of ancient myths and legends. The question remains, are those myths and legends stories something that existed in the minds of our ancestors, or were they based on true events? It is true that most of those ancient myths and legends stories appear to the scientific world as fictitious products of vivid imaginations whose goals were purely to explain phenomena beyond their comprehension. Yet is it not arrogant to accuse our ancestors of being uncivilised and ignorant in one breath, then offer them praise and admiration over their monuments, buildings, art, sculptures, and societies in the next? This only proves that our modern society has two contradictory attitudes toward our past.
The moon is a powerful force of nature. Just step outside in the middle of the night, when the sky is clear and the moon is full, and look it for a moment. In fact, the moon is a central part of many myths and legends across different cultures precisely because of it.
Ghost-less ghost stories, urban legends are modern day fairytales. Just as Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks were spread by oral tradition, urban myths are spread by word of mouth, creating contemporary folklore, often with a moral sting in the tail. Let's face it, a sleepover isn't complete without at least one candlelit tale of terror. Much like traditional folklore, modern myths are embellished or altered as they are retold. Most are still told orally over marshmallows and hot chocolate but some are recorded. Many authors have retooled urban legends as inspiration for novels or movies.