The Odyssey



Last updated Monday, March 23, 2015

Author: Gillian Cross
Illustrator: Neil Packer
Date of Publication: 2012
ISBN: 0763647918
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2014

Synopsis: Odysseus faces storm and shipwreck, a terrifying man-eating Cyclops, the alluring but deadly Sirens, and the fury of the sea-god Poseidon as he makes his ten-year journey home from the Trojan War. While Odysseus struggles to make it home, his wife, Penelope, fights a different kind of battle as her palace is invaded by forceful, greedy men who tell her that Odysseus is dead and she must choose a new husband. Will Odysseus reach her in time? Homer’s epic, age-old story is powerfully told by Carnegie Medalist Gillian Cross and stunningly illustrated by rising talent Neil Packer.

Note to readers:
•  The book is rather long. The cyclops story is probably one of the most entertaining sections of the epic. Don't forget to set up the story. "Odysseus is on his way back home after a long terrible war and he misses his family dearly. He is really arrogant and has upset the Gods! This is his story about getting home."

Vocabulary:
•  Luxuriant- producing abundantly, as soil; fertile; fruitful; productive
•  Uninhabited- not having inhabitants, unoccupied, not lived in or on
•  Beckon- to signal, summon, or direct by a gesture of the head or hand
•  Vast- of very great area or extent; immense: the vast reaches of outer space.
•  Scorn- open or unqualified contempt; disdain, being judgmental and mean
•  Treacherous- deceptive, untrustworthy, or unreliable

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you know what a myth is? Do you know any myths?
•  Have you ever heard of Hercules? Who is Hercules' father?
•  What does it mean to be a hero?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Who is the Cyclops' father? Do you think Poseidon will be upset that Odysseus has hurt one his children? Poseidon is the God of what?
•  Why does Odysseus tell the cyclops his name? What do you think is going to happen?
•  Do you think Odysseus is a good general? Why? On one hand he gets them out of the problem on the other his men never wanted to enter the cave.

Craft ideas:
•  Use the "Red-Figure Calyx Krater" postcards from The Getty Museum to make your own bookmarks to use when reading more Greek mythology. On the back of the card, list some of your favorite characters from the book and add a description for each one. Draw a family tree, like the one on pages 14-15, on the back of another card. (postcards provided for some of the schools)
•  If you do not have postcards you can draw your favorite character or make a construction paper mosaic.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!