Monday, July 2, 2018

MIDDLE GRADE REVIEWS: Argos, The Story of Odysseus as Told by His Loyal Dog/The Wizard's Dog Fetches the Grail


From a compelling new voice in middle grade comes a reimagination of The Odyssey told from the point of view of Odysseus’s loyal dog—a thrilling tale of loyalty, determination, and adventure.

For twenty years, the great hero Odysseus struggles to return to Ithaka. After ten years beneath the walls of Troy, he begins the long journey back home. He defeats monsters. He outsmarts the Cyclops. He battles the gods. He struggles to survive and do whatever it takes to reunite with his family.

And what of that family—his devoted wife, Penelope; his young son, Telemachos; his dog, Argos? For those twenty years, they wait, unsure if they will ever see Odysseus again. But Argos has found a way to track his master. Any animal who sets foot or wing on Ithaka brings him news of Odysseus’s voyage—and hope that one day his master will return. Meanwhile, Argos watches over his master’s family and protects them from the dangers that surround a throne without its king.


Hardy's taken the story of the Odyssey and retold it through the eyes of an imaginary loyal dog.  While Odysseus is attempting to make his way home from the Trojan War, Argos, The Boar Slayer, remains at home attempting to take care of Odysseus's wife and son.  What should have been a simple voyage home becomes much more complicated as Odysseus and his men visit various islands and have a bunch of adventures along the way.  After blinding a Cyclops who happens to be the son of Poseidon, they find themselves facing destruction. Greek gods in this tale were creatures of whim and grudges.  During the ten years that follow, Argos works hard at taking care of his master's flocks while daily seeking news of his master from any and all animal visitors to the island.  Thus, Argos follows along by proxy his master's troubles.  But many on the island believe that after so long a time, Odysseus must be dead, thus a hundred suitors descend on Odysseus's home to court and marry his wife.  Argos and Telemachos struggle to contain the excesses of the suitors while trying to maintain hope that Odysseus will be coming home.  Hardy does a nice job covering ten years of time while keeping the action going both at home with Argos and through the stories of Odysseus's adventures.  This is a fun book for middle grade readers who enjoy Greek mythology and stories about dogs.


For fans of The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom comes an offbeat, comedic spin on the Holy Grail legend as told by the lovable Nosewise--talking dog and wizard-in-training! 

The magical realm of Avalon has gone to the dogs--well, one dog. Nosewise, the hilarious talking pup and wizard-in-training, can wield powers untold...but he has yet to master the powerful sword Excalibur. This dog still has some new tricks to learn.

But Lord Oberon's evil worms threaten to eat all magic in existence. Nosewise and his pack, the street urchin Arthur, the sorceress Morgana, and his beloved master Merlin, must find the Holy Grail, the one item that can save them all. The only problem: the goblet is hidden in the legendary castle of Camelot--which has been missing for centuries! Worse, Queen Mab, sovereign of dreams, is planning havoc of her own. As naps turn to nightmares, Nosewise will have to rely on his smarts and his snout, or the dog days will be over!

Popular author Eric Kahn Gale returns with a fast-paced fantasy adventure that stands out from the pack!


This sequel to The Wizard's Dog proved to be just as entertaining.  Gale has taken the story of Merlin, Arthur, Morgana, and Camelot and turned it on it's head with thoroughly enjoyable results.  Nosewise, the talking, magical dog, and his pack, Merlin, Arthur, and Morgana, think the worst is over after defeating Oberon on the island of Avalon.  But when they return to Avalon after gathering some supplies they discover their fae friend Nivian dead as a result of the worm sprites that Oberon created, that they had thought were dead.  Nosewise being an extremely loyal companion won't accept that there is nothing he can do to help his friend.  After Oberon, who is dying himself, tells them that the only way to bring Nivian back is to find the Grail of life with it's life bringing water, Nosewise is determined to do whatever it takes to find it.  But traversing the land of the fae and confronting Queen Mab, sovereign of dreams, proves to be much more difficult than he ever imagined.  Especially once Queen Mab gains control of Merlin, Arthur, and Morgana through their dreams.  It's up to Nosewise to not only save his pack, but find a way to gain the Grail to save Nivian.  Gale has written a book full of adventure and humor.  Nosewise is an amusing narrator as he strives to understand his human pack.  Each of the characters has their strengths and weaknesses making the book that much more realistic.  But the fun comes in with the adventures that Nosewise and his pack experience.  A thoroughly engaging tale full of fun characters and exciting adventures.

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