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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 March 2016
3.5 stars

I didn't know much about the story, so a short audio-version sounded like a nice introduction. This is suitable for children (though I can imagine they will have a lot of questions!) and makes a short fairy tale for adults.

It's one disc long, and tells the story of Antigone (an-Tig-on-ee), a Greek princess, who buries her dishonoured brother without permission, and suffers the consequences.

The unique aspect to the story is the inclusion of extra characters/narrators - a crow and dog, viewing the playing out of the scenes with their own non-human perspective.

Lots here of use to primary/secondary teachers and classes. I wasn't enamoured, I enjoyed the very pleasant Scottish narration by the author (even if not authentically Greek!), and the short 'interview' at the end with the author (and crow!).

I didn't personally like Antigone very much, for even though she is strong-minded enough to make her own decisions, she submits to her determined fate far too quietly for my liking, I wanted passionate speeches rhetoric, though I appreciate that isn't quite the tone of the tragedy.

I would have liked more detail and background, certainly other Greek tales telling in a similar vein would be nice for a younger audience, the style was appropriate to children, though I can't comment on layout/illustrations as I haven't seen a paper copy.

Interesting, may stimulate curiosity in Ancient Greek stories.

Hard to pinpoint an age range for this, but it could be useful in KS2-4 classes.
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on 21 October 2013
In this retelling of Antigone's story, originally written as a drama by Sophocles around 422 BC, Ali Smith takes the surprising and original decision of having a crow as the narrator. It is the crow who observes young Antigone while she decides to go and bury one of her brothers after a terrible battle which left both her brothers dead - one a hero and one deemed a traitor. The king of Thebes may have decided that his nephew Polynices was a traitor at the time of his death and as such doesn't deserve a burial, twelve year old Antigone can't bear to leave her brother's body out in the open to be eaten by animals and slowly rot away. Fully aware that the penalty for honouring her brother's remains will be her own death, Antigone still goes out of the city to find his body and bury it.

Antigone's act of defiance doesn't go unpunished but since this is a Greek tragedy in the truest sense of the word, it comes as no surprise that the King's cruel treatment of young Antigone results in devastating consequences for him and his family. Because this is of course a story about power and those who would abuse it as much as it is a story about love and loyalty. Maybe Ali Smith explains it best when she explains her reasons for writing this story to the crow in the last chapter of this book:

"...that the story of Antigone, a story about a girl who wants to honour the body of her dead brother, and why she does, keeps being told suggests that we do need this story, that it might be one of the ways that we make life and death meaningful, that it might be a way to help us understand life and death, and that there's something nourishing in it, even though it is full of terrible and difficult things, a very dark story full of sadness."

Having the crow as the narrator of this story is a stroke of genius on Ali Smith's part. The crow can describe the horrors of what happens to a body left in the open, without burial, in rather gruesome detail much easier than a human voice ever could. We expect some cruelty from animals like crows, and it will be much easier to accept the facts shared in this story - especially for young readers - when they come from this rather dispassionate point of view.

Like I said in my review of "The Story of Gulliver" these books are part of the "Save the Story" series which aims to bring classic stories to a new generation of readers because these stories should never be lost. All the stories in these books have a message to share; a message that was important at the time the story was written and has lost none of its importance in the years, decades or centuries that have passed since. These books give young readers the opportunity to become acquainted with important stories that have stood the test of time while at the same time giving them the opportunity to think about some big issues. And all of this is achieved without the books ever feeling preachy or educational.

This book is once again a work of beauty, and I am not only referring to the story. This is a high quality hardback with the words printed in a beautiful font in two different colours and accompanied by wonderful illustrations. This is the sort of book you will love to own, will be proud to have on your shelves and will want to keep even long after your young reader has moved on to other books and genres. In fact, even if you do not have a young reader in your life you could do a lot worse than getting the books in this series for yourself; especially if, like me, you're only vaguely familiar at best with the classics being retold here.
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on 16 April 2014
I was gifted a signed copy of this exquisite book by a good friend, and what a perfect present it was! Written in Ali Smith's masterly sharp and beautiful prose, illustrated simply but evocatively by Laura Poaletti, it retells the story of Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta in Greek mythology.

Against her sister's desperate warning and Creon the King's explicit command, young Antigone ventures out of the city at night to bury her brother's body. He has been left to be eaten by the crows as punishment, but Antigone cannot bear to think of her sibling's body being desecrated in this way. She is caught in the act of burying him, and this leaves the King with a dilemma. What shall he do with this young criminal, with whom his son is in love? The law states that she must be killed...

Smith tells the story cleverly through the voices of the crows who watch over the city; their wry, unhuman take on the tragedy brings a dark humour that adults and children alike will appreciate. She balances timeless prose and modern wit to create a truly enjoyable version of the myth, and which requires no foreknowledge of Greek mythology to appreciate. Brilliant stuff.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 December 2013
This is wonderful, and well worth its modest cost. Ali Smith has taken the grim story of Antigone and retold it for children from the point of view of a very characterful crow with pleasingly raw detail about how and what the crow likes to eat, especially after a battle - children will like that. It's all there, lucidly and naturally told, with excellent, rather moving illustrations by Lucy Paoletti. Antigone's steadfast loyalty and courage, her sister Ismene's fearful reservations, Haemon's defiance of his father and above all the all-too-human uneasy arrogance of the king, Creon, ring true and all add to the compelling narrative. There is unexpected humour in the crow and a dim little dog, of which the crow has little good to say, and especially in the entertaining versifying of the Elders (the youngest of whom is 94), who are at once the king's advisers and overawed by him and his draconian decisions. When the tale has been told, Ali Smith explains to the crow, in an interview, where it has come from and why she has modified it a little. It is all impressive and enjoyable. I'd read it to children from about 6 upwards, but adults will admire and enjoy it too. As if this were not enough, the book is notably well-produced in boards with attractive and varied typefaces. It's a real find!
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on 14 August 2016
I do love picture books, more so since I became an aunty in 2015. It was with this in mind that I requested The Story of Antigone by Ali Smith from NetGalley.

It was interesting. I think I overestimated how much of a children’s book it was. Having an animal narrator and pictures does not necessarily a children’s’ book make in my opinion. Whilst The Story of Antigone is told well and the concept of bringing stories that some younger readers may never ever come across is brilliant, I personally think that the story reads as a text for an older audience.

Using the allegory of the dog and the crow to tell the story would have been beyond me and my understanding as a child (and I was extremely well read) and therefore I think it is a bit ambitious as a story for children.

The Story of Antigone by Ali Smith is available from September 6th 2016.

For more information regarding Pushkin Press (@PushkinPress) please visit [...].
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on 24 December 2015
I bought this book for my great nieces. They loved it. Sorry I'm unable to comment further.
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