Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mini Myths by Joan Holub: "Play Nice, Hercules" and "Be Patient, Pandora"

Be Patient Pandora by Joan Holub

Title: Be Patient, Pandora! (Mini Myths) | Author: Joan Holub | Illustrator: Leslie Patricelli | Publication Date: September 16, 2014 | Publisher: Abrams Appleseed | Pages: 24 | Recommended Ages: 1 to 5

Summary: When Pandora is warned by her mother not to open a box, her spirited curiosity trumps her obedience. Pandora harmlessly touches the box, innocently leans on the box, and eventually, albeit accidentally, bursts the box open! The cupcakes that were hidden inside are ruined, except for one last vestige, which Pandora presents in the hope that her mother still loves her. Leslie Patricelli’s depictions of this physical comedy bring a lively narrative to Joan Holub’s carefully crafted text. Includes a summary of the original Pandora’s Box myth at the end.

My thoughts:  Pandora is typical of any small child when there is an unopened surprise or gift. "Do not open the box..." is tantamount to stirring the ever present curiosity that is innate in the child. So she looks. She approaches. She touches. She sits upon it...... well, you kind of get the idea that "Pandora's box" is ultimately opened.

While this state of curiosity and disobedience is natural in a child, they need to learn to manage it. In the Mini Myths series for the very young child, Pandora is nicely handled. I think the "myth" that is explained at the back of the book is perhaps understandable by the 5-year and older child; it will be a bit lost on the younger audience. I would recommend this for someone who wants to teach control of curiosity to a young child.

Play Nice Hercules by Joan Holub

Title: Play Nice, Hercules! (Mini Myths) | Author: Joan Holub | Illustrator: Leslie Patricelli | Publication Date: September 16, 2014 | Publisher: Abrams Appleseed | Pages: 24 | Recommended Ages: 1 to 5

Summary: Hercules is not as interested in “playing nice” as he is in playing strong! But when one feat of strength destroys his little sister’s 12-piece tower, he must use his powers for good to restore the tower and seek her forgiveness. She forgives him indeed, and then shows her own strength by gleefully knocking down the stacked blocks herself! Joan Holub’s expertly focused text pairs perfectly with Leslie Patricelli’s famously humorous illustrations. Includes a summary of the original Hercules’s Twelve Labors myth at the end.

My thoughts:  Hercules is a bad, rambunctious little boy. He literally wrecks the place. The illustrations really portray Hercules as an intentionally bad little boy. But when asked, "Are you playing nice?" he switches his behavior.

This is suppose to parallel the myth of Hercules. In the back of the book there is a synopsis of the story of Hercules, the myth. Frankly, I think this is beyond understanding of the targeted age group this book is designed to reach. The story of the "modern" Hercules is fine, though he really is a naughty boy, and shows behavior can be modified. I don't necessarily recommend this book, but some might feel it is appropriate for their children.

About the Author: Joan Holub’s fascination with mythology inspired Mini Myths, a new board book series that translates famous myths into situations familiar to preschoolers. The first two titles, Be Patient, Pandora! and Play Nice, Hercules! debut in September. Joan co-authors two other mythology series for Simon and Schuster, Goddess Girls (ages 8-12) and Heroes in Training (ages 7-10). Her picture book, Mighty Dads, was a New York Times bestseller in 2014. 


  1. I think these books are adorable! I can't wait to read them!


  2. I really enjoy many of Joan Holub's books, but I personally don't enjoy the Greek gods and goddesses or their stories so I've had a hard time getting into these and the Goddess Girls. I appreciated your honest review. Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday this week! Hope to see you again soon!

    1. Tina, I'm pretty much of the same "mind" as you regarding Greek gods and goddesses - especially in books for young children. I certainly think that older children should learn the history of Greece and other countries and that entails what they believed and how much their beliefs impacted their societies. And I think study of really old literature is important even though it is about these gods and goddesses. I do appreciate the author's stories about patience, etc. and realize that little ones need help learning to control themselves and a little storybook sometimes helps. Thank you for visiting me here and your comment.


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