Skip to main content

Stickman Odyssey : An Epic Doodle AND Stickman Odyssey : The Wrath of Zozimos, by Christopher Ford, 200 pp and 228 pp, RL 3

Subconsciously, I think I latched onto the idea of reading the best children's versions of The Odyssey I could find precisely so that I would have a reason to purchase and read Christopher Ford's Stickman Odyssey: An Epic Doodle and Stickman Odyssey: The Wrath of Zozimos, which first caught my eye when published in 2011 and 2012. And they did not disappoint! I hate to boil it down like this, Stickman Odyssey: An Epic Doodle and Stickman Odyssey: The Wrath of Zozimos can best be described as Diary of  a Wimpy Kid meets Percy Jackson, and I mean that in the best possible way. Using The Odyssey as a jumping off point, Ford brings a fast pace and lots of humor to a cast of familiar characters that includes golems, a sphinx, a colossus, a cyclops, ghosts, and magical items from the gods like blood lilies, golden feathers and a bag of wind. Ford's story, despite the graphic novel format and stick-figure illustration style is actually pretty meaty and should take most readers more than one sitting to read. And, while some reviews say that the action is too rapid and the character development too light, having recently read The Odyssey I found that Ford's storytelling style echoed Homer's in that it seemed like it was just one thing after another for Odysseus, who just wanted to get back to Ithaca.

The comparison to Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series comes from the fact that Zozimos reminds me a bit of Greg Heffly - he is self-centered, refuses to listen to anyone else and won't admit it when his friends have helped him. But, like Greg, Zozimos is capable of change. The comparison to Rick Riordan's series of books that revolve around Greek and Roman mythology comes from the obvious, but also from the pace of story telling that Ford, a graduate of NYU film school, fuels with tons of action. The story of the lost and wandering stickman, Zozimos, as he tries to make his way home to Sticatha, has lots of ups and downs and twists and turns and Ford lays down a great backstory. Early on the reader learns that Zozimos's mother died in childbirth and his father, the king of Stithaca, and his sisters, mourned for a year and a day, then he married a dancing temptress who turned his sisters into crows and killed the king with a poisoned dagger. Zozimos was saved by his one-eyed uncle who secreted him to an island to be trained for revenge. That's a pretty great, and pretty Greek, set up. And, amidst the sight gags (at one point Zozimos barfs, making me grateful this graphic novel is in black and white, at another point he soils himself in a moment of fear...) and increasingly creative uses of the phrase, "By Zeus's (underpants, etc.)" there is a story unfolding.

And there are some tragic Greek themes that will probably go over most reader's heads. Zozimos thinks he's in love with the Princess Asteria until he learns that it has been prophesied that his sword will be the cause of her death. He turns his attentions to the warrior Alexa but learns, after uncovering various truths about his father and step-mother, that she is in fact his sister. Horrified by the kiss that they shared, Alexa flees and blinds herself. When she meets up with Zozimos again, she assumes he has blinded himself as well and this makes for a few good jokes. By the end of Stickman Odyssey: The Wrath of Zozimos, Zozimos has claimed his rightful place as the King of Stithaca and determined the best way to keep his subjects safe from his evil uncle and his band of mercenary centaurs is to refuse to fight, staying barricaded behind the walls of the city. While a gift form the gods allows Zozimos to feed his subjects and maintain his Peace Policy, he soon realizes that not all of his subjects are happy and some of them want to fight for their freedom, even if it means dying in the process. When someone very close to Zozimos makes this choice, he decides to confront Nestor, but refuses to kill him or let anyone else avenge him. Ford manages to pull off a very cool scene that shows growth on the part of Zozimos and also a clever solution to the wrath of Nestor. Ford brings the humor back again in the final pages of the book that take place ten years later, and a total of fourteen years after we first meet Zozimos in Stickman Odyssey: An Epic Doodle. Zozimos is relating the story of his epic odyssey to his disbelieving son, who repeatedly questions the verity of his exploits. Insisting that he has been exaggerating, Zotikos asks his father, if he knew of an island where there was a path to the Land of the Dead then why hasn't he gone back to rescue his mother? Proving that he is capable of subtlety, rather than have a lightbulb appear over Zozimos's head, Ford has his give himself a hearty dope-slap. Then he runs off to his find his old friends and enlist them on another adventure! No date yet for the third book in the Stickman Odyssey series, though.

Source: Purchased Books


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers

How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers remains the most read post on my blog since I wrote it in 2012. Because of this, I have cleaned up this post, tightened the writing and added in any pertinent information that has come about since it originally ran. When I first started in August of 2008, I was scrambling for content, finding my purpose and my voice and not always doing my best writing. How to Choose Age Appropriate Books for Advanced Readers was one of the first articles I wrote and, as a bookseller and a book reviewer, and now as an elementary school librarian where I have gone from working with kids reading well beyond their grade level to kids reading well below, this philosophy remains my organizing principle and central focus when reading and recommending books to parents and children. 

In the interest of my mission and the attention this article continues to receive, I have updated and expanded this article and included a guide to using …

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…