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This beautifully illustrated book is a good introduction to mythology for younger kids (perhaps elementary age), which will hopefully whet their appetite for more in-depth study of specific mythological beliefs of different cultures.
This book defines mythology as "a collection of stories that help people make sense of the world". "Myth" is not used in the sense of something that's not true, but in the sense of stories transmitted within a culture. Hence, every culture throughout time, including our own, has had "mythology". The book makes little if any attempt to distinguish "religion" from "mythology". Hence, elements from modern religions including Christianity/Judaism, Islam and Hinduism, are included along with ancient mythology such as Norse and Roman. True believers of any religion may be offended by such inclusion, but it makes sense if you refer back to the definition above.
Rather than provide an in-depth coverage of various mythologies of specific cultures (e.g., Norse, Greek, Roman, Chinese, etc.), this book looks for common themes that cut across various mythological systems. After the introduction, for instance, the book discusses creation, the cosmos, the sun and moon, the making of humankind and supreme beings. Later sections cover specific kinds of gods, including trickster gods, gods of war and gods of love. The final sections cover beliefs about death and dying and about the end of the universe or the end of life as we know it.
Personally, I don't prefer this type of organization. I'd much rather read in-depth accounts of each mythological system individually. That provides a greater understanding of the general relation of all the elements of each mythology and provide a better understanding of the worldview engendered by such mythology (as well as the physical and cultural existence of the people who believe(d) such mythology, since culture and religion/mythology mutually interact and influence each other).
But on the other hand, this organization works for this book which is, after all, only a broad survey introduction. Furthermore, it has the advantage of showing that religious/mythological beliefs of different cultures living in different times and places share more similarities than differences, which, in turn, shows that humans themselves share more similarities than difference, regardless of time, place or culture.
As mentioned, the full-color illustrations are excellent and provide the main draw of the book. Many show artifacts such as amulets and sculptures representing mythological figures, while others show artists' renderings of stories from various mythological systems. These pictures provide a rich visual feast which can be studied far longer than it takes to actually read the book and, in fact, tell us more than the written words can.
Recommended for any library, including home collections.