Shapeshifters: Tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses

4.29 avg rating
( 28 ratings by GoodReads )
9781845075361: Shapeshifters: Tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses

"Behold the great shapeshifter himself, boldly casting poetic spells." - Roger McGough

"Adrian Mitchell makes these tales of human overreaching and natural vengeance sharply up to date. Children will be entranced, but there's plenty for adults too." - Andrew Marr

Bursting into life in the hands of Adrian Mitchell, here are 30 of the brightest, loveliest and most powerful myths ever written - stories of gods such as Jove, Apollo, Juno, Venus and Mercury and of mortals such as Daphne, Narcissus, Adonis, Phaeton and Persephone . Re-created from Ovid's Metamorphoses in stories, ballads and headline news, they sing aloud on the page. Breathtaking artwork by the most acclaimed fantasy illustrator of our time transforms the stories into a living, breathing children's classic to bewitch a new generation raised in a world of special effects.

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With Alan Lee's amazing illustrations and the late Adrian Mitchell's wonderful writing style, this book has all the ingredients of a life-long classic. Considered to have within its pages thirty of the most powerful and delightful myths ever written, this lovely production certainly does them justice. This a treasure of a book.

( Bookseller)

An exciting addition to the substantial classical library built up by Rosemary Sutcliff (Black Ships Before Troy and The Wanderings of Odysseus, which are both illustrated by Tolkien artist Alan Lee, and have sold almost 40,000 copies according to the publisher) and Penelope Lively (In Search of a Homeland). The late Mitchell retells the myths that Ovid retold for the Ancient Romans using verse, song,straight prose and Mercury’s despatches from the front line of the gods’ battles. The credits will please fantasy fans – Alan Lee created “The Lord of the Rings” world for film and print – as well as children who enjoy language play, and those who are drawn in by the powerful stories

( Bookseller)

Within the picture books market, titles with the most chance of success in the current economic climate need to be investment purchases and many of those highlighted have been highlighted for the staying power of either the author/illustrator of the story…or the almost instant classic status, witnessed in Adrian Mitchell and Alan Lee’s Shapeshifters.”

( Bookseller)

There’s enough about humanity’s dreams and fears in Shapeshifters to last a child for life.

( Times)

Thirty of the brightest, loveliest and most powerful myths ever written are retold here by the late, great poet and author Adrian Mitchell. Stories of Ancient Rome and its gods, heroes and heroines are re-created from Ovid's Metamorphoses into stories, poems and headline news. With its stunning artwork by illustrator Alan Lee, this title is destined to be a classroom classic and is a perfect accompaniment to project work on myths and legends.

( Literacy Time plus)

The structure and the language of this beautiful book reflect its theme, superbly shifting between the lyrical and the prosaic. Stunning.

( Angels and Urchins)

There's just time to mention an actual classic, Ovid's Metamorphoses, as reimagined by the late, great Adrain Mitchell. 'Shapeshifters' humbles every other entrant on the list with its humanity. Smuggle it into the adults' stockings, too.

( Independent on Sunday)

Tales from Ovid's Metamorphoses might seem inaccessible to today's iPod generation, but children raised on Harry Potter and Twilight take fantasy and myth in their stride. Mitchell's lyrical interpretation and Alan Lee's quite breathtaking illustration bring to life the heroics and tragedies of King Midas, Narcissus, Echo, Persephone and the Minotaur, among others. One for all the family.

( Daily Mail)

"The story was well told because it was quite detailed - not vague, but not too much extra stuff, either. It is written in a fairly grown-up way, and doesn't feel like a children's story… This one tells it straight, and is even quite poetic at times. The pictures are really cool. I loved the Labyrinth. In another one, you can tell what Icarus is thinking just from his face: it's so well drawn. The sea is beautiful too." Thomas Brooke, aged 10.

( Church Times)

"Alan Lee's illustrations are subtly appealing: slighly old fashioned and painterly with a muted greeny-blue palate…It's certainly not a translation or a basic summary, but more of a concise retelling, with some neat touches of characterisation. It would be a useful and easy introduction to Greek and Roman myths." Rachel Boulding, parent.

( Church Times)

Thirty of the most powerful myths are retold. Stories of Ancient Rome and its heroes are re-created into poems and headline news.

( Country Life)

Transforming Ovid's epic Matamorphoses into a book for children sounds like a tall order but the late poet Adrian Mitchell has pulled it off in style. Shapeshifters, with exquisite illustrations by Alan Lee, is a magical collection of stories and poems that brings to life the myths of Persephone, Icarus, King Midas and many more.

( Daily Express)

This collection remains super-accessible throughout. Sometimes in prose, elsewhere in poetry, it retells famous myths from King Midas to Orpheus in the Underworld. Sumptuously illustrated by Alan Lee, it is a book for ever as well as for all ages.

( Independent)

Powerfully illustrated, this is a handsome introduction to some of the best-known stories about the Greek gods and goddesses and their legendary powers of transformation. Adrian Mitchell's vivid verse and prose retellings reflect the humour, pathos and often downright tragedy of each story by capturing the reasons for the shapeshifting and the usually devestating consequences of it.

( Guardian)

Older children who like poetry and the ancient world will relish the powerful 'Shapeshifters' with sinister but brilliant illustrationsby Alan Lee. Part poetry, part prose, it tells both familiar stories - Persephone, Orpheus, the Minotaur - and many less well known but just as dramatic.

( Spectator)

This book, Adrian Mitchell's last, is deeply felt and highly personal. In its vigour and its dramatic range it is a fitting memorial to a writer who added such a vibrant human note to literature for both children and adults.

( Books for Keeps)

Very good introduction to Greek mythology with stirring fantasy illustrations by Alan Lee.

( Irish Post)

Alan Lee's brilliant illustrations match the tone of the text, showing the transformations taking place. With remarkable fluidity features from each double-page spread flow into the illustrations on the following spread as the page is turned. If it was possible to stretch all the illustrations end to end they would become a huge frieze, each picture transmogrifying into the next Human. Beings are shown in the process of metamorphosing into other life forms, as if the images are moving, without any sense of discontinuity between the different pictures. Delicate colours do not distract from the incisiveness of the drawing - the results being both beautiful and horrific, on occasions. This version of Ovid (not a translation) is an artistic pleasure, repaying close study and repeated reading.

( School Librarian)

Here is a book that charges the imagination, perfect for dipping in and out of and savouring, tale by tale. I have no doubt that this is a book that young (and not so young) readers will cherish for a long time.


A splendid, beautiful book.

(Margaret Meek)

About the Author:

ALAN LEE won the Kate Greenaway Medal for his illustrations to Rosemary Sutcliff's Black Ships Before Troy, which was followed by The Wanderings of Odysseus (both Frances Lincoln). In 1998 he won the Best Artist Award at the World Fantasy Awards. He illustrated the Centenary editions of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and, more recently, The Children of Húrin (HarperCollins). He went on to transform his vision of Middle Earth from page to celluloid in Peter Jackson's film trilogy The Lord of the Rings, winning an Oscar in 2004 as part of the Art Direction team on The Return of the King. Alan lives in South Devon.
ADRIAN MITCHELL (1932-2008) made a splash in the 1960s as the first journalist to interview the Beatles and caught the spirit of the time with his anti-war poem 'Tell me lies about Vietnam'. The author of over twenty stage plays including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he adapted many foreign classics for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre. He was the lyricist for Peter Brook's Us and Peter Hall's Animal Farm, and wrote many of the lyrics for Pam Gems' Piaf, as well as television documentaries and novels for adults and children. He gave over a thousand performances of his poems. His last three books were Shapeshifters, Tell Me Lies (Bloodaxe Books) and Umpteen Pockets (Orchard Books). Adrian's death in 2008 was a sad loss to literature, to the theatre and to children everywhere.

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Mitchell, Adrian
Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books (2010)
ISBN 10: 1845075366 ISBN 13: 9781845075361
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1

Book Description Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1845075366

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Mitchell, Adrian
Published by Frances Lincoln Children's Boo (2010)
ISBN 10: 1845075366 ISBN 13: 9781845075361
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 3
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)

Book Description Frances Lincoln Children's Boo, 2010. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P111845075366

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