Cover image for Odysseus in the serpent maze
Odysseus in the serpent maze
Yolen, Jane.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
248 pages ; 22 cm.
Thirteen-year-old Odysseus, who longs to be a hero, has many opportunities to prove himself during an adventure which involves pirates and satyrs, a trip to Crete's Labyrinth, and the two young girls, Penelope and Helen, who play a major role in his future life.
Reading Level:
630 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.0 7.0 46287.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 5.2 12 Quiz: 25788 Guided reading level: S.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Odysseus, Prince of Ithaca, has always been safe, sheltered, protected -- and bored! The Age of Heroes is past. The wars are over. The monsters are slain. Or so he believes. Are there any adventures left for a thirteen-year-old boy who wants, more than anything, to be a hero? His time comes when Odysseus, his best friend Mentor, a spoiled princess named Helen, and her outspoken cousin Penelope are kidnapped by pirates. After a daring rescue and a journey on a mysterious ship to the ancient island of Crete, Odysseus must face the deadly secret at the heart of the Labyrinth, where the Minotaur once struck terror into the hearts of all who were unfortunate enough to enter. Now another, more deadly monster roams the maze. There the boy destined to fight in the Trojan War and survive the perilous voyage of the Odyssey discovers the hardest part of being a hero: living long enough to tell the tale. Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris have written a fresh and exciting adventure that introduces the boy who would later become one of ancient Greece's most renowned legendary heroes.

Author Notes

Jane Yolen was born February 11, 1939 in New York City. She received a bachelor's degree from Smith College in 1960 and a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts in 1976. After college, she became an editor in New York City and wrote during her lunch break. She sold her first children's book, Pirates in Petticoats, at the age of 22. Since then, she has written over 300 books for children, young adults, and adults.

Her other works include the Emperor and the Kite, Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and The Devil's Arithmetic. She has won numerous awards including the Kerlan Award, the Regina Medal, the Keene State Children's Literature Award, the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, two Christopher Medals, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, the Golden Kite Award, the Jewish Book Award, the World Fantasy Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Association of Jewish Libraries Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-7. What was Odysseus like as a teenager? This swashbuckling, almost slapstick adventure imagines the epic hero as a 13-year-old who's at once brash, insecure, and wise. During a visit to his grandfather, Odysseus feels far from heroic when he botches a boar hunt. On the way home, rough seas throw him and his best friend overboard. A pirate ship picks them up, and coincidentally Penelope and Helen are prisoners on board. The resulting series of mythological obstacles and clever escapes takes the teenagers on a high-speed journey to Crete, where they confront the beasts in Daedelus' maze and head home, heroes at last. The cliffhanger chapter endings, snappy humor, and breakneck adventure are reminiscent of an Indiana Jones film, and the characters are richly drawn, with plenty of girl power to balance the boys' heroics. Well-integrated historical detail and an authors' note enhance this page-turner for middle-graders. --Gillian EngbergReference Books Bulletin

Publisher's Weekly Review

The team behind last year's The Queen's Own Fool launches the Young Heroes series with a rollicking adventure starring a 13-year-old Odysseus, prince of Ithaca, who meets his match (and future wife) in Spartan captive Penelope. Drawing on the Iliad, the Odyssey and "what archeologists have told us about the [Greek] civilization," Yolen and Harris imagine the youth's formative quest. No previous knowledge of ancient Greece is necessary, and readers may well be entertained by the fast-paced and sometimes slapstick antics of crafty Odysseus (who develops a crease between his eyebrows when he's "about to come up with an outlandish excuse lie, fib, wile for doing something he'd already decided to do") and his cautious friend, Mentor. Together they do battle with pirates and inadvertently rescue Penelope and her cousin Helen of Troy; form an alliance with Silenus, the amorous satyr; and organize a perilous rescue mission against Ladon, the serpent with 100 heads in Crete's infamous labyrinth. The authors weave in legends, such as Siren and Daedalus, as well as surprising tidbits (e.g., the Greek nobility's illiteracy). The new spin here is that Penelope accompanies Odysseus on his adventures, often acting more heroic than he; by giving this champion a worthy heroine who complements his strengths and even compensates for his weaknesses, the authors may well draw boys and girls in equal numbers and send them clamoring for more Greek myths. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Drawing on scant details of Odysseus's childhood available in Greek mythology, Yolen and Harris have created an adventurous story of the young hero. He is visiting his grandfather, along with his friend Mentor. When it is time to return to Ithaca, the 13-year-olds encounter a storm at sea, which forces them to abandon ship, only to be picked up by pirates who have kidnapped the famed Helen and her cousin Penelope. Odysseus escapes, landing on an island inhabited by a lonely centaur. The pirates land here as well and Odysseus finagles a rescue. The young escapees then end up on Crete, where they are captured and thrown into the Serpent's Maze. The background details of mythology are woven into the tale without overpowering the action, and the setting is deftly created. The young characters are developing the habits and dispositions that will define their roles in future tales. Odysseus is a wanderer, loves adventure, and arrogantly acts without thinking. Helen is self-centered and pampered but finally shows some moral fiber. Penelope is the unsung heroine, guiding Odysseus and remaining faithful to him throughout. Mentor, a lesser-known character, is true as well. The authors have done a fine job of placing this original tale firmly into the Greek literature tradition. For fans of myth, it will be a welcome addition; use it to introduce adventure enthusiasts to mythology as well.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Aloha, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1. Hunting the Boarp. 1
2. First Bloodp. 8
3. The Old Thiefp. 16
4. A Hero's Talep. 23
5. Dangerous Voyagep. 33
6. Misery at Seap. 44
7. A Princess of Spartap. 49
8. The Thread of Lifep. 58
9. Silenusp. 63
10. The Planp. 72
11. Goats and Waterp. 82
12. Singers in the Mistp. 93
13. Adriftp. 103
14. The Mystery Shipp. 111
15. The Long Islandp. 124
16. The Bronze Guardianp. 131
17. A Box Full of Marvelsp. 140
18. Rites for the Deadp. 148
19. The Great King's Palacep. 161
20. The Great King's Dungeonp. 170
21. The Prophecyp. 179
22. Horned Beastp. 188
23. Ladonp. 199
24. A Battle in the Darkp. 208
25. Secret of the Mazep. 218
26. The Final Challengep. 226
27. Worthy Foesp. 239
Epilogue: The Goddess Speaksp. 242
What Is True About This Story?p. 246