A mythical picture book for youngsters

What makes a children’s book appealing to kids? Certainly the major draw is its images, especially for those too young to read on their own. The vividly painted, thickly textured paintings by Katerina Barclay in «The Hand of Zeus,» also written by Barclay, along with her daughter Aegea Barclay (published by Aegean Design, Norland, WA, 2004), will certainly stimulate young readers’ imaginations. In strong Aegean blues, deep reds and greens and gold glitter – in a style somewhat like kindergarten van Gogh or «influenced… by the bold use of metallics by Gustav Klimt,» as mentioned in a critic’s blurb – the book’s illustrations accompany a modern legend about how Greece obtained its shape and many islands. Simply put, it is a morality tale: Zeus’ wrath comes down on a group of «greedy Greeks» who try to oppose him, his hand slamming down to form the «fingers» of the Peloponnese, while the numerous small and large «eye-lands» look back at the vengeful, all-knowing king of the gods to remind us today of that betrayal. Though the story isn’t particularly complicated, the concepts are a bit advanced for developing minds which might have trouble grasping sentences such as «It is in a mortals’ nature to be greedy» (despite the misplaced punctuation), while the font chosen for the text of the book – often majestic capital letters to suit the tale – are difficult to distinguish even by trained eyes. Happily, the illustrations are enough food for thought.