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Blake A. Hoena grew up in central Wisconsin, where, in his youth, he wrote stories about robots conquering the Moon and trolls lumbering around in the woods behind his parent's house - and the fact that the trolls were hunting for little boys had nothing to do with Blake's pesky younger brothers. Later, he moved to Minnesota to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Since graduating, Blake has written more than forty books for children, including retellings of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and the Perseus and Medusa myth. Most recently, he's working on graphic novels for Sports Illustrated Kids and writing stories about superheroes.
Gr 3-5-Perseus fares considerably better than Jason here, with a solid awareness of how to balance visual depiction and expository captions, evident right from the striking prologue. While the artwork is cartoony and the dialogue deliberately casual and modern, the style doesn't prevent the artist from providing heroic vistas, or the author from slipping in a couple of humorous moments, and the action is sufficiently thrilling. Jason's story is told in a loose, sketchy style that has an amiable energy and a blocky representationalism that holds a degree of charm. Unfortunately, the artwork and narration exhibit some seriously clunky storytelling that seems unable to muster a sense of either heroic spectacle or simple narrative transitions. A particularly bizarre circumstance has Jason go from having stubble to a full beard over a period that may be as short as a day. The fact that this happens right after a sequence in which Jason tells Cupid-struck Medea that he loves her for reasons that are never expressed through words or pictures seems to indicate a marked absence of a clear plan as to how to reinterpret this myth and make it accessible or even consistent. Each volume closes with a brief glossary, discussion questions, and Web links to a set of preselected Web sites. None of these features really elevates these titles to an academic level, but Perseus, at least, is sufficiently entertaining not to need overt curricular justification.-Benjamin Russell, Belmont High School, NH Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information