Food For Crows

Story of Antigone
Ali Smith, illustrated by Laura Paoletti
Allen & Unwin
November 2015
$16.99

410T8NkJ-3L._SX368_BO1,204,203,200_It’s perhaps not the easiest thing to do, to introduce a child to the convoluted and depressing world of Greek tragedy and somehow engage them in the story. Certainly when I was subjected to Oedipus the King at the age of eleven I was bored out of my skull. Coming after the much more interesting and child-friendly histories of the feats of Heracles, anything that came in play form might as well have been a list of shampoo ingredients for the all the interest they held.

One would imagine then that adapting Sophocles’s tragedy Antigone for younger readers would be a daunting task. It is a challenge that Ali Smith has risen to with aplomb. In her adaptation, The Story of Antigone, the tale is told from the point of view of a crow. A charming character, we are introduced to our witness at the very end of a battle as she describes how to grab a quick morsel for dinner before all the human women (the still-alives) come to collect their dead (food for crows). The theme of death, of human carcasses as things that provide sustenance to other creatures, is constant. Continue reading

Grendel’s Mum

BEOWULFbeo

J. R. R. and Christopher Tolkien

Mariner Books, August 2015

 

A thousand years on, the sharpness of Beowulf‘s images still strikes us. Longships cruise amid icy spray. A king stares with fear amid the riches of his hall. Then comes the fiend Grendel stalking across the moors. Tolkien’s translation weds to these visions the rhythm and grandeur of language that rumbles even as it exults, which rolls like the swells of the sea. Continue reading

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