By: Carol M. Scavella Burrell
Publisher: Lerner Publications
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 10, 2011
There are all kinds of mysteries and rumors you hear that keep you wondering if they are really true or not. If you are interested in Greek mythology, as many people are these days, you are probably wondering about Mt. Olympus, especially if you are a Goddess Girls or Percy Jackson fan. There were Zeus, Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena, Ares, and other gods and goddesses mentioned in the series. And of course there was Mt. Olympus. But is there a real Mount Olympus? In this book you’ll not only find out if there was or not, but you’ll find out some other very interesting facts that will boost your trivia bank and WOW your friends. Just in case you want a sneak peek, these Greek gods “drank nectar and ate ambrosia, a food that made them immortal.”
Maybe you like to spout facts to your friends that have that yuck factor. Did those gluttonous Romans have “such huge banquets that they had to vomit between courses?” We do know they did have vomitoriums, but was there any connection? There is a rumor going around that Egyptian pharaohs used to marry their sisters. Eeeeew! There’s also one that claims Hannibal road a herd of elephants over the Alps so they could attack Rome. Cool, but was it true? You’re going to find many interesting historical facts and fallacies in this book, including the one about that Trojan horse that will amaze you. You’ll learn about mummies (including cat ones), whether or not Egyptians buried their servants alive, Cleopatra and the snake that killed her (did it?), the origin of school, the Olympic games, gladiators and the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” sign, and you’ll learn many other interesting facts about the ancient world.
The actual set up of the book makes it interesting to browse while presenting a lot of fascinating information in a painless manner. For example, when presenting the material on the Roman gladiators and the “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” signal, we also learn that “Gladiators were slaves or volunteers who couldn’t find other work: and that “Women could become gladiators too.” The physical set up of the book is busy and draws the eye here and there exploring information. The double columned main text is surrounded by photographs, art reproductions, sidebars, and balloons that carry additional information about the topic at hand. Sidebars present many interesting historical vignettes from information about Herodotus to a Roman cookie recipe. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, a selected bibliography, and additional recommended book and website resources to explore.
Quilll says: This fun and fabulous book of ancient “mysteries” will encourage the young student to delve deeper into the history of the ancient world.