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Stories from Greece

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Dragonfly Song
Authors:
Format: Hardcover
Grade Levels: 5; 6; 7; 8; 9;

The girl has had many selves in her short life. The first she remembers is Aissa, the daughter of Mama and Dada, sister to Zufi who watched the goats. Then the Bull King's raiders came, and Mama said, "Don't make a sound till I come back." And when the villagers found her she was silent as stone, because Mama never came back again.

So the villagers cursed her as back luck and made her No-Name, lowest of the servants to the Lady, the island's priestess. But there were whispers, as she grew, of another self: of the Lady's rejected first daughter, born imperfect with two extra thumbs. The silent girl looks at the scars on her wrists and wonders, but she has more pressing concerns. The villagers blame her bad luck for the tribute the Bull King now demands of them: two youths given each spring to dance with his bulls and die for his god's glory. And the servants hate and fear the unnatural way the animals all come to her. For Aissa, though, this bond with creatures of fur and scale is the first clue in finding the true self that no one else can give to her, or take away.

Wendy Orr, the author of Nim's Island, introduces a resourceful and resilient heroine for slightly older readers. Inspired by an archeological trip to the island of Crete, where frescoes show figures leaping over the backs of bulls, Orr weaves an intriguing mythological portrayal of the Bronze Age Minoan civilization. Lyrically written and refreshingly unpredictable, Dragonfly Song suggests a fascinating origin for the legend of the Minotaur and his dark tribute.

Reviews
"Orr tells her tale in both narrative poetry and prose for an effect that is both fanciful and urgent, drawing a rich fantasy landscape filled with people and creatures worthy of knowing. An introductory note describes Orr's inspiration in the legend of the Minotaur, but her story is no retelling but a meditation on rejection and acceptance, on determination and self-determination. The shifts between poetry and prose build tension just as surely as the bull dances do. As mesmerizing as a mermaid's kiss, the story dances with emotion, fire, and promise."—Kirkus Reviews Starred Review

"The Bronze Age setting makes for a unique backdrop, and Aissa is a sympathetic character. Her struggles are heartrending, and made more so by the lyrical storytelling style. The descriptions of the dances are especially vivid. VERDICT: Hand-sell this unusual tale to fans of Shannon Hale's historical fantasies."—School Library Journal

"A retelling of the legend of the Minotaur, Orr tells Aissa's tale in a lyrical mix of narrative poetry and prose, using lush, vivid language to create an unparalleled fantasy world full of life and lively characters. While young readers with a special interest in history will immediately be drawn into this meticulously researched, literary story, its fast-paced, adventurous, epic feel will undoubtedly appeal to all readers."—Booklist

"The narrative style shifts between straightforward, lyrical prose and imagistic free-verse poetry, a technique that infuses the story with a dreamlike atmosphere. Both forms advance the action, but the poetry enhances the sense of intimacy by focusing attention on Aissa's impressionistic views of the world and her sense of isolation among the people who fear, bully, and reject her. Her ultimate triumph is credibly compromised, making this an unusually thoughtful offering in the middle-school mythology genre."—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"[A] work of beauty. From the stunning cover to the mythological imagery and lyrical prose, readers are drawn in and carried along on an intense ride....Orr's language is gripping and enchanting, and Dragonfly Song would make a perfect read-aloud chapter book for middle grade teachers. While the academic cross-curricular subject areas are obvious, including history, mythology, religion, spirituality, even bullying, I enjoyed this story simply as a pleasure read. Readers will find that Dragonfly Song and its fearless heroine will stick with them long after the final chapter. Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine

"Dragonfly Song is an impressive work of middle-grade historical fiction. Aissa is a brave, tenacious girl, who rebels against the constraints of her life without appearing anachronistic. There isn't a lot of young people's fiction set in the Bronze Age, and the details here are lovingly researched, creating a transportive world. Especially noteworthy is the representation of religion in a pre-Christian setting, as the book explores both its beauty and brutality."—Quill & Quire

"[Dragonfly Song] was very original and creative....I also like that the book was partially written in poetry and partially written in prose. Books are usually one or the other, so I like how the author wove them together. I love how this story was very detailed, as I could picture almost everything. Overall, Dragonfly Song was an amazing book."—Farrah, Age 11, Kids' BookBuzz

Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 10-14

Additional Information
408 pages | 5.50" x 7.80"

Authentic Canadian Content
$19.95

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Swallow's Dance
Authors:
Format: Hardcover
Grade Levels: 5; 6; 7; 8; 9;

Leira is about to start her initiation as a priestess when her world is turned upside down. A violent earthquake leaves her home--and her family--in pieces. And the earth goddess hasn't finished with the island yet.

With her family, Leira flees across the sea to Crete, expecting sanctuary. But a volcanic eruption throws the entire world into darkness. After the resulting tsunami, society descends into chaos; the status and privilege of being noble-born are reduced to nothing. With her injured mother and elderly nurse, Leira must find the strength and resourcefulness within herself to find safety.

A thrilling new Bronze Age survival story from the award-winning author of Dragonfly Song and Nim's Island.

Reviews
"[Orr's] mixture of prose and free verse to tell Leira's story is lyrical and magnetic—and devastating. Not for readers searching for a simple or happy journey, this is a beautiful song of a book that shows that life isn't always fair, but change is always constant."—Kirkus Reviews

"Leira's lyrical first-person narrative advances the story along beautifully with a fitting sense of urgency, and free-verse songs clue readers in to her emotional development. Immersive historical fiction."—Booklist Starred Review

"Some chapters written in verse make the more emotional plotlines sing. An eye-opening look at how difficult it is when one's status changes in life, and how attitude can shape outcome. VERDICT: Beautiful writing and a fast-moving plot will give young historical fiction fans much to love."—School Library Journal

"Leira's protracted fall from grace is effectively punctuated by seamless narrative shifts among prose, verse, and song, which fans of Orr's Dragonfly Song will recognize. What she endures—the uncertainty of her family's fate and becoming a servant herself—makes for a gripping exploration of privilege during her journey toward womanhood."—Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books

"Swallow's Dance is a sweeping tale of courage, fortitude, hardship and perseverance against all odds. It is also a coming of age story, an intimate glimpse into the life of a young girl adjusting to puberty at a time when her family, friendships and her understanding of her place in the world are brutally torn apart. Wendy Orr has crafted a sympathetic, memorable heroine whose struggles and challenges transcend time from the Bronze Age to modern day....While suitable for middle-grade students and a wonderful introduction to mythology and discussions surrounding puberty, spirituality, class, mental health, death and disaster, Swallow's Dance is one of those rare books that is also just a great story, an epic tale for all ages. Highly Recommended."—CM Magazine

"Top notch historical fiction for those who like it ancient!... The scenes of devastation – earthquake in Santorini, tsunami in Crete – are riveting to experience through the lens of a survivor."—Youth Services Book Review

"Orr's attention to character development is extremely well done....Swallow's Dance could be used in conjunction with the grades-five-to-eight Language Arts or Social Studies curriculum and would be great to teach students how to incorporate symbolism and imagery through free verse and poetry. In addition, Swallow's Dance could also be used to teach students about family, culture, history and the importance of the role of women in society. A fantastic novel to use as a read-aloud or novel study!"—Canadian Children's Book News

Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 10-14

Themes/Subjects: Legends, Myths, Fables - Greek & Roman / Historical - Ancient Civilizations / Action & Adventure - Survival Stories / Coming of Age.

Additional Information
288 pages | 5.50" x 8.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
$19.95

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