Don’t Know Much About World Myths by Kenneth C. Davis



Don't Know Much About World Myths by Kenneth C. DavisDon’t Know Much About World MythsKenneth C. Davis; HarperTrophy 2005WorldCatSergio Ruzzier, illustrator

Kenneth C. Davis has a series of children’s “Don’t Know Much About” nonfiction books. While working at the library bookstore, I saw this one sitting on a stack of books someone was borrowing. It caught my attention, so I put in a request. While this book is aimed at 8 to 11-year-olds, it is an education to anyone who isn’t a scholar of mythology.

Don’t Know Much About World Myths dips into mythology from around the world, rather than the classic Greek and Roman mythology often taught in American public schools. It starts with the earliest known myths from Babylon, including Gilgamesh. From there Davis goes through time and around the world. The book includes a question and answer format as well as narrative. He pulls quotes from literature that goes with the myths he is retelling.

His myths come from Babylon, Greece, Rome, Celtic northern Europe, Scandinavia, Egypt, China, Japan, Oceania, Australia, Africa, South America, and North American Native Americans. Davis also discusses the Indian mythology, which is the one that is a religion even now as much as myths.

I like the way Davis draws parallels throughout the book, for example showing how a Japanese myth mirrors a myth from India. Many story lines are repeated throughout the world in different ways. The most common, of course, would be a creation myth and a birth of man myth. Others, though often repeat as well. There is a major flood myth in many of the different cultures. Davis explains that myth started with regional flooding that was perceived as “world wide”, not global. But the myth occurs in different parts of the world, leading me to disagree with him and believe there was a world wide flood we Christians attribute to Noah.

Don’t Know Much About World Myths is an easy book to read for the age level and older. It is full of information that will be new to anyone except the well studied world scholar. Unfortunately, there are areas that lack fullness. I would have like to heard more about the different African mythology. Davis explained, though, that little is known about South American mythology because little was written down and it was then absorbed into other cultures’ mythology. Since I listened to the book, I didn’t get to see Ruzzier’s artwork except the cover. That leads me to believe a child would enjoy the pictures that go along with the different myths.

This little book is great for children and adults. Don’t Know Much About World Myths is chock full of fun and surprises and the joy of learning something new.

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