Review of I Am Pan!

gerstein_i am panstar2 I Am Pan!
by Mordicai Gerstein; 
illus. by the author
Primary, Intermediate    Roaring Brook    80 pp.
3/16    978-1-62672-035-0    $18.99

Never have the first-person point of view and the exclamation point been used more appropriately than in this introduction to the Greek god Pan. Untrammeled ego, low impulse control, resilient, charming — this is a Pan we all recognize. As Hera says, “He delights my heart, but he’s a menace.” In this set of Pan adventures — including the invention of panic; falling in love with the moon; King Midas; the music contest between Pan and Apollo; and the Battle of Marathon — Gerstein artfully re-creates not only the finger-in-a-light-socket energy of a spirited child but the way that young kids tell stories: abrupt, arbitrary, and rich with action. “When we got to Sicily, Zeus picked up Mount Aetna…and dropped it on Typhon’s head. That was the end of the battle.” Pictures match words with a hectic, nervous line; Day-Glo colors; an uppercase hand-lettered text; and a page divided into dozens of varied panel arrangements. Pan is so anxious to get the story started that we don’t even get the title page until the third spread. A genial author’s note and brief list of sources give us some context without squelching this little goat god one iota.

From the May/June 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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