"History, geography, and culture form a nice web with the selected stories in these attractive, carefully prepared collections. Each introduction begins with the same general discussion of differences among folktales, legends, and myths and then goes on to explain some characteristics of the myths and beliefs of the featured region. Each volume contains nine to 11 matter-of-factly told stories (mostly myths), all of which are followed by two-page explanations of related cultural practices and history. No authors are named here, and no specific sources are cited for the stories. A note to readers mentions that all such tales were retold orally for long periods of time and often appear in many written versions. Africa receives a bit less attention to history, culture, and actual mythology. Though these volumes are introductions to very broad subjects, they are all rich in content with versatile possibilities for use, handsome illustrations, concluding lists of the featured gods, and substantial bibliographies. VERDICT These titles will have lasting appeal and value."
--School Library Journal
"Fascinating myths and legends representing ancient cultures from six continents are retold and shared through text, artwork, and photographs in these twelve volumes. Keeping in mind that many of the stories have survived the centuries through oral tradition, it's obvious that an enormous amount of research was required to compile the books. With their exceptional reputation preceding them, the World Book editorial team, along with their partners from Brown Bear Books, has produced yet another superior product. Each volume covers stories from a particular area of the world, including Africa; Ancient Britain and Ireland; Ancient Egypt; Ancient Greece; Ancient Rome; Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands; Central and South America; China; Canada and the northern United States; the southwestern United States and Mexico; Scandinavia; and South and Southeast Asia.
The volumes open with an identical four-page introduction in which the authors first explain the differences between myths and legends. They then delve into a brief background leading up to the tales passed down through generations in that culture. Students not only enjoy the stories themselves, but also learn about ancient religious symbols and practices. A physical map accompanies the narrative to enable a better understanding of the geographic area.
To name just a few, some recognizable characters from stories included in the series are Finn Maccool from ancient Ireland, Raven and Coyote from the Indians of the northern United States, Sigurd and Loki from Scandinavia, Romulus and Remus from ancient Rome, and Huo Yi from China. Students will also encounter many new tales. Following the narratives are bits and pieces of interesting history surrounding them.
The layout, font, and generous amount of color make these books appealing and very accessible. The back matter in each volume consists of a glossary, a list of print and nonprint resources, an index, and a pronunciation key.
Recommended for public and school libraries."
- Jean Elvekrog
"With color photos and illustrations on every page, this 12-volume set will appeal to elementary students of all ages; it offers lushly illustrated read-aloud stories for younger ages, with fact-based sections and accompanying photos for middle grades. Representing indigenous peoples around the world as well as historical civilizations, most of the volumes deal with various world regions: Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, Central and South America, China, Canada and the Northern US, the Southwestern US and Mexico, Scandinavia, and South Asia and Southeast Asia. Several volumes cover ancient societies: Ancient Britain and Ireland, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and Ancient Rome. Each myth or legend is followed by a two-page spread showing the real-life world of the tribes, peoples, or regions represented in the story, illustrated with color photos of places, people, art, artifacts, and material culture, as well as color historical illustrations. Entries include phonetic pronunciation of tribes, names, and other non-English words. There is also a glossary for each volume."