December 8, 2014

The Griffin and the Dinosaur by Marc Aronson with Adrienne Mayor, illustrated by Chris Muller

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:22 am by suebe2

The Griffin and the Dinosaur:
How Adrienne Mayor Discovered a Fascinating Link Between Myth and Science
by Marc Aronson with Adrienne Mayor
illustrated by Chris Muller
National Geographic

Long ago, the Greeks told stories about mighty gods and goddesses battling ogres and giants.  They told stories about fierce warrior women and griffins.  They spoke about dragons.  When Adrienne Mayor read these tales American School of Classical Studies in Greece, they had the ring of truth.  Not literal word-for-word truth but the truth of a story based on something that people had seen.  Fortunately, Adrienne was just the person to make this connection.

She grew up listening to stories about her grandfather.  A patent medicine man, he traveled the country selling his concoctions as well as collecting oddities and the stories that went with them.  The oddities and stories were part of her childhood and the ancient Greek tales had much the same feel.  What had they seen that sparked the story of the griffin?

Thus began Adrienne’s search.  First she had to educate herself in the classics, collecting stories, noting similarities and differences, tracking them back to the oldest stories of all.  What could these people have seen?  Adrienne was convinced that some fossil had sparked the tales but this meant educating herself on fossils. What animals lived where and in places where the remains are consistently visible so that people would see them often enough that they would create a story to explain them?

This story reads like a mystery as Adrienne follows the clues back to the origin of the story of the griffin.  It isn’t a picture  book for preschoolers but one for older elementary students who love myth and dinosaurs and story.

I have to admit that when I read about Adrienne in the backmatter, I copied her book list onto my Christmas list.  Then I looked closer — last year I gave my myth and marial son one of her books.  Check this out and see if you aren’t inspired to add it to somebody’s library this holiday season.

–SueBE

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