World Myths and Legends: 25 Projects You Can Build Yourself, by Kathy Ceceri, illustrated by Shawn Braley (Nomad Press, 2010, 119pp)
Although this book might sound like a fairly ordinary craft book, it is much more--it is also an excellent introduction to the cultures and myths of a diverse selection of peoples, and one I highly recommend to home-schoolers in particular. As well as the coverage of the expected European civilizations (Greece, Rome, and Northern Europe), the book includes Egypt and Mesopotamia, Sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, Japan, Australia, and North, South, and Central Australia. That being said, it is still is somewhat euro-centric (the map of important places has more points in the European region than elsewhere), and the book begins with Europe.
The 25 projects of the title are nestled into extremely informative text, providing both historical background for the cultures in question, at a fairly high level of detail and vocabulary. Helpful "Words to Know" blocks educate and clarify--one such selection includes personification, spiritual, avatar, unity, reincarnation, caste, karma, and dharma. Although the book does include well-written retellings of various myths, because they are accompanied by such education-driven material, reading this book is much more an actively learning/discussing/comparing experience than a standard anthology of "stories from many lands" book.
The projects themselves are extremely varied, and go beyond simple craft-ness. For instance, one activity for the Greek section is to use Euclidian geometry to make an equilateral triangle--fun with compasses! For the Celts, the reader is instructed in the making of a Beltane flower hair wreath and a Triskeles armband; the African section tells how to make a version of Ashanti Adinkra cloth. I could go on...but the point is that these are rather cool projects, such as I have never seen elsewhere.
Fun and instructive!
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)
Today's Non-fiction Monday round-up is at Picture Book of the Day.