Cover image for Hercules
Burleigh, Robert.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Silver Whistle, [1999]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 x 29 cm
Retells the story of the final, and most difficult, labor of Hercules, known as Heracles in Greek mythology, in which he must go to Underworld and bring back the three-headed dog, Cerberus.
Reading Level:
AD 380 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.5 0.5 34949.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 3.3 2 Quiz: 26543 Guided reading level: L.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BL820.H5 B87 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BL820.H5 B87 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Journey back to ancient Greece and meet the greatest hero who ever lived--Hercules! With eleven difficult tasks behind him, he now must face the last and most terrifying. To bring back the three-headed monster dog, Cerberus, Hercules must enter the Underworld--where the dead go--and come back alive! With a bold storytelling voice, Robert Burleigh takes the reader into the classical world of Greek mythology and reveals the courage and valor of this larger-than-life hero. Award-winning illustrator Raul Colón's dazzling artwork imbues this classical story with magic and power.

Author Notes

Robert Burleigh is the author of many books for children including Flight: the journey of Charles Lindbergh, which won the Orbus Pictus award. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6, younger for reading aloud. Using language that draws on the strength of its subject yet speaks in the lilt of poetry, Burleigh retells the story of Hercules and his last labor. As Hercules enters the cave to Hades, readers learn about the hero's past as he remembers the 12 labors, including the hydra with nine heads and escaping the Amazons. Then, it is off to the River Styx and the land from which no one returns. On his journey, he sees King Hades and his sad queen, Persephone, and Hercules runs past Rhadamanthus, who judges the dead, and pitiful Sisyphus. Then appears the massive dog with three heads, each covered with hissing snakes. "Cerberus! Cerberus at last!" Burleigh's vivid imagery reaches its pinnacle as Hercules fights the monster. It is here also that Colon's art is at its most intense, a jumble of movement, strength, and horror. This is in contrast to some of the other pictures, which display Colon's usual fine mix of texture and color yet lack the virility the story demands. Overall, however, choosing only one labor to illustrate is a fine way to hone the tale for younger readers, and this certainly makes a dramatic alternative to the Disney version of Hercules. A brief foreword introduces the story of Hercules and his 12 labors and provides a list of characters and places. --Ilene Cooper

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-A picture-book retelling of the final labor of Hercules, hauntingly presented. Told in the third-person present tense, the story follows the legendary hero into the underworld to retrieve the three-headed dog, Cerberus. The narrative is spare, broken into short, poetic lines: "Soundlessly,/They push into the river./And the rocky bank fades behind them." This may be more detailed than some readers want, but they will be drawn in and revel in the story. The success of this version depends heavily on Colon's watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations. His characteristically golden hues work well for the Mediterranean and mythical setting, and the varying dimensions of the pictures (from single, to page-and-a-half, to double-page banners) on the wide pages make the text and visual narration move from left to right as if on a scroll. A couple of details mar this otherwise lovely book. The bizarrely cartoonlike illustration of the Gorgon seems out of style with the otherwise unified-looking characters and creatures. Also, Burleigh's choice not to include Eurystheus (the king who commands Hercules's labors and is shamed by his success in this one) or Hercules's return of Cerberus to the underworld (readers don't know what happens to the creature in this version) make the telling seem unfinished. Still, this is an enticing contribution.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.