Joe Todd-Stanton has a four (so far) book series about the Brownstone family. They are adventurous children who have amazing times being heroes. The narrator is Professor Brownstone, a Brownstone descendent, and his vaults of books and artifacts. Well they don’t tell the story, but they help us find the stories, as each piece is linked to one of his ancestors and each has its own wonderful, far-out story to tell.
The first in the series is Arthur and the Golden Rope: Brownstone’s Mythical Collection. Arthur is the town oddball. But that is okay, he likes it that way. Until one day the town says things that make Arthur think it might not be such a good thing after all. But when the chips are down, and the village is in danger, it is only Arthur who can save the day, as he has a few tricks and a lot of smarts up his sleeve (not to mention a spare hand). In a story that not only follows the folklore of Viking mythology (hello Thor, Odin, and a Loki nod), we also learn about being adventurous and clever.
If it was not for Arthur’s cleverness, there would be no happily ever after. Or the chance for book two that stars his daughter Marcy. We follow Marcy to Egypt, as she tries to save her father Arthur from the Sphinx in Marcy and the Riddle of the Sphinx: Brownstone’s Mythical Collection. When Arthur tries to bring back the Book of Thoth, which holds all knowledge, he gets himself into trouble, and Marcy must come and save him. But she has a fear of the dark, and her father is deep in the belly of the Sphinx. With some newfound spunk and help (and tricks) from Egyptian gods, Marcy learns how to be brave and overcome her fears.
Book three is Kai and the Monkey King: Brownstone’s Mythical Collection. Kai is tired of sitting around reading when there is a monster at their door (or soon will be). And Kai’s mother does not seem to be taking the threat seriously. Therefore, she goes off to find the Monkey King to see if he will help her. In her adventures, she learns that patience is a virtue, and keeping your word is important, and no matter how cool a Monkey King might be, sometimes they are a lot of trouble. She learns that the answer is not always the doing, but in the learning what to do with knowledge. Following Chinese mythology, Kai comes to life in this delightful book.
Leo and the Gorgon’s Curse: Brownstone’s Mythical Collection follows young Leo in ancient Greece. Determined to be a great hero (like Achilles and the lot) he has been forbidden by his parents to harm other beings. Therefore, what does a wanna-be-hero do? They can study (a lot) and learn that sometimes you can be a hero in small ways that have great impacts. And they can learn that if you look closely enough you can find a friend in the oddest places. We learn about tolerance, Greek myth, and the importance of friendship in book four. And of course, what the true meaning of hero really is.
All four are illustrated by Todd-Stanton and have a modern flavor to them. Boldly colored, sometimes messily detailed, but also nicely created to compliment the story, we can read the images as easily as the text. If you are looking for a fun story about mythologies but are not ready for things like Rick Riordan levels, this is a fun way to start.