Published by Candlewick
Summary: Rhaskos is a slave in ancient Greece, separated from his mother at an early age. His mother is taken away to live in a household that includes Melisto, a girl whose wealthy father loves her, but whose mother despises her. When Melisto joins a group of young girls serving the goddess Artemis, her life takes an unexpected turn and becomes entwined with Rhaskos’s. Rhaskos’s mother finds a way for Melisto to obtain Rhaskos’s freedom…but it will take years and many strange turns that involve gods, goddesses, and the great philosopher Sokrates. Includes exhibits of ancient Greek artifacts with museum-type descriptions interspersed throughout the book; each of these plays a role in the story. Also, an author’s note with additional information about Greek words, verse, and history; and an extensive bibliography. 545 pages; grades 5-8. ó
Pros and Cons: I honestly don’t know where to begin with this book. It truly is a masterpiece, written mostly in verse, but with some sections in prose, and an incredible attention to historical detail. I can’t even fathom the research that must have gone into writing it, and I can’t imagine any other publisher besides Candlewick producing this.
Having said that, I feel like this is a book with very, very limited appeal. Looking back over my 21 years of being a school librarian, I can think of two middle school girls who might have been interested in this book. I had to really push myself to read it (it’s over 500 pages!), although it was pretty absorbing once I started.
Will this book receive Newbery consideration? Absolutely, and there is no question that the writing and research of that caliber. Do I hope it wins? To be honest, no. Call me a simpleton, but I would rather see a book win that is going to appeal to a much greater audience of young readers.