Greeks, Beasts and Heroes: The Magic Head


In this, the second of Lucy Coats’ re-telling of Greek myths and legends, she begins with stories of the gods and goddesses: how Zeus, the greatest of the gods, married Hera; the story of Demeter, the corn goddess, and her daughter Persephone who was carried off to the underworld; the birth of Aphrodite and her marriage to Hephaestus, the blacksmith god; and Hephaestus’ own story of how he was lamed and later became a blacksmith and made wonderful things.

She moves on to stories of gods interacting with humans: Zeus transforming himself into a white bull and carrying off Europa; Danaë imprisoned in a copper tower where Zeus appeared as a shower of gold and the subsequent birth of the hero Perseus; and two of Perseus’s own adventures: how he got Medusa’s head and how he rescued Andromeda from the dragon; and the birth of Apollo, the god of prophecy, who killed the snake, Python; and Apollo’s twin sister, Artemis, the huntress.

Lucy Coats interweaves the stories with great skill, greatly aided by Anthony Lewis’s splendid illustrations. In the classroom, they could provide plenty of opportunities for discussion of myths to explain the seasons, as shown by Demeter and Persephone; myths to explain volcanoes, as in the stories of Hephaestus; and to show how in nature, as with caterpillars and butterflies, say, things change into other things.

Again, with such difficult names for children to pronounce as Hephaestus, Danaë and Poseidon, the book certainly needs a helpful glossary. Suitable for children of 7 plus.


I think this book was very good but it should have a bit more detail. I would have liked to have known how everyone could talk to the Gods and Goddesses for example, and how could they make goats magic and why is it called The Magic Head? There’s not really such a thing as a magic head.

I liked the stories but as I just said I wanted to know more. My favourite story is called The Queen of The Underworld. I liked it because the mother was nice but it got a bit worrying when the child got kidnapped. It was an exciting story and it was easy to read. I really like the pictures and the coloured pages in the book.

I read The Magic Head by myself with some help from Mum and Dad. I think the book would be good for teenagers. I wouldn’t tell my friends to read it because most of them don’t read what I read.



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(UK) £4.99

(UK) 9781444000665