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Gilgamesh the Hero

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  512 ratings  ·  74 reviews
This is one of the oldest stories in the world, and it's about things that still matter to us today: friendship, fame, courage, happiness.

Gilgamesh and Enkidu are friends -- best friends. Together they can work wonders, fight monsters, brave earthquakes, travel the world! But waiting in the dark is the one enemy they can never overcome.

Retold by award-winning author Gerald
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published June 20th 2003 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (first published September 26th 2002)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  512 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Steve Hemmeke
Jul 19, 2012 rated it liked it
One of the greatest pagan stories, about what it means to be human.
Gilgamesh discovers Ecclesiastical wisdom:
1. Two are better than one, for if one falls, the other can help him up.
2. To enjoy life with its limitations is better than pursuing immortality.
3. You can leave your mark in life, but the future is up to others.

This rendition is a little mature for young readers at a couple spots. Going to save it for the next go-round of history with my 12-14 year olds, instead of springing it on my 8-
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mankind's oldest story. And what an amazing story it is. I found it extremely comforting and somewhat depressing that we, as a species, have changed so little. We are just as beautiful and just as brutal. Thanks to all the work it took to translate this from the original cuneiform Sumerian. Written over 5000 years ago, but retold orally for who knows how long before that, and it has it all. Only "discovered" about a hundred years ago, this just goes to prove that we've been telling the same type ...more
I don't think anyone retells the myths as well as Geraldine McCaughrean does these days. From the world's oldest recorded poem and the original story to have the great flood and the ark in, McCaughrean retells the Gilgamesh in a fast, exciting narrative full of rich language and evocative landscapes. For me, she perfectly captures the vitality with which Gilgamesh lived his life and the anguish he felt at losing the most important person in his life. Parkins' illustrations throughout add so much ...more
Pelican G.
Feb 16, 2015 rated it liked it
This tale of a king says a lot about the human psyche and the emotions we grapple with. Gilgamesh is a young king, determined to make his mark on the world. Joined by his friend Enkidu, he slays the great Bull of Heaven, a feat worthy of a god. But Enkidu is injured in the process, and is ultimately killed by this. Driven mad from the loss of his best friend, he lives in the woods like an animal and sets off on a series of impossible quests. Eventually, he returns to his city, Uruk, a changed, o ...more
Nov 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-with-kids
This woman can write a great story for both children and adults. Her style is full of wonderful imagery, well-worded phrases, and enticing descriptions. She also has a intuitive feel for story, especially ancient ones, and can make them appealing to modern ears.

GREAT book to read aloud with my kids. The only thing I would warn of is the mention of a beautiful, golden, naked woman. Some parents wouldn't like that.

Loved it. My kids and I like anything we've read by this author. (Golden Hoard seri
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I always love McCaughrean YA adaptations of classic works. Classic and lyrical, with accurate themes brought forward. This was an afternoon read-aloud we took our time through so that we could start it while we were reading about prehistory and finish while we were reading about Sumerians. Worked out just right. L gave it 5 stars, as expected since she already loves the story thanks to other versions for even younger readers, but even K gave it 4.5. That's solid. ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, read-alouds
Gilgamesh is one of the world's oldest stories. This edition by Geraldine McCaughrean is really good, much better than the more literal translations, which I'd read earlier.

The story is engaging, the pictures are fun, for younger readers especially. But she does a great job of turning the ancient story into more of a universal tale than I recall in the "original."
May 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book I found to have beautiful writing patterns but for some reason or another I found it unappealing. I felt that some characters needed to be looked at more and the plot was very twisty and that was sometimes hard to follow.
Michiko Nakazawa
Oct 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you have not read this book yet, I strongly recommend you to read this book. The book is very well written and it's not a thick book so you don't really get tired of reading it. Please try reading this book! ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
The story of Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, slayer of Huwawa and the Bull of Heaven, and his great friend, Enkidu. In a version I could actually understand! I tried a more "direct" translation, but whooee was it a tough read. So I checked this version out, the same one my 10 year old daughter is reading for school, and though the story is still a bit all over the place, I could actually follow it! Gotta keep up with my girl!

The coolest part of this read was the ark story, and how much it seems the Bib
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
I read this after reading Stephen Mitchell's translation of the epic, because I was interested to see how this story could be adapted for children. The original epic contains a lot of mature scenes (and themes), and I didn't think that it was the kind of myth/ story that I would want to read to a young child.

This is a pretty loose adaptation of the epic, which is gone, but I didn't find the prose or the illustrations particularly compelling. I also wonder how this adaptation would read if you we
Reading Through the Lists
Apr 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Epic of Gilgamesh is a notoriously fragmented text, but McCaughrean does a stellar job weaving together the various threads that make up the story of Gilgamesh in a way that is age-appropriate without feeling dumbed down.

The more sexual/erotic elements of the Epic have (unsurprisingly) been replaced with polite alternatives such as “kissing,” but this adaptation still manages to hit on the deeper themes of the work: love of glory, loss, fear of death, desire for immortality, and eventual ac
Rob Chappell
Oct 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a rare treat -- a great epic from the ancient world, retold for children of all ages, featuring amazing adventures and profound insights into the human condition. Great illustrations accompany the text, which is based on the Epic of Gilgamesh, the world's oldest known epic poem, from ancient Mesopotamia. This Halloween, I'll be dressing up as King Gilgamesh -- and this is the book that helped me see how an ancient epic can be made relevant to a present-day audience by an outstanding ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it
The story of Gilgamesh is one that I’ve long wanted to explore. This version is very readable for an adult. However, it’s marketed toward young readers and I think the sentence structure and word choices would make it difficult for children to read, even with an adult’s help. Nonetheless, this is a timeless, solidly told story and I’m glad to have read it.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It turns out that the oldest recorded story in the world is also incredibly moving. From the beginning, I was smitten by the two heroes' friendship. And by the end I felt I'd been a little changed by Gilgamesh's journey. His own human weakness leads him down a long path of failure, but then it is that very path that teaches him who he can be and what matters most in life. ...more
Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is probably the first story to be in "written" form, 12 tablets. What a wonderful set of folktales of the Epic Hero, Gilgamesh. This version is highly annotated to remove the "adult" content. As a result you have a the bare bones of the stories presented in a lovely illustrated. Finally, the editor's writing is good and packed with lots of literary devices which make is very enjoyable. ...more
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: retellings, 10-grade, 2020
What a delight! I have not read the epic of Gilgamesh in at least 20 years so I'm not sure how faithful to the original it is... there's a few details that seem added
But I thoroughly enjoyed this retelling.
Sarah Kochert
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Read something like it, but wasn't for children so I pulled stories from the internet. ...more
may regan
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a VERY good retelling of Gilgamesh, the art is good, and it can make the text so much easier to explain for younger readers!
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
A classic- the first epic tale of the ancient world. A hero's journey with an unexpected and uplifting ending. The first book for the World History through Lit class I am leading this year. ...more
Jeanne Castle
Oct 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Read this aloud to my children ages 7-14. Enjoyed by all. A great rendering of the Gilgamesh tale.
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Disappointing and poorly written. Seemed more like a children’s story book than a high school book.
Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it
A lovely introduction to this epic.
May 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
A nice retelling if the epic. As a kids book is fine but it does feel very bare bones. Not to fond of the artwork put thats just my personal taste. A great into into classic works.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
I am on a myth kick right now, and interesting story. Though some of the casual wording threw me because it was inconsistent. Overall enjoyable and as a book geared toward kids it had bite sized chapters.
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology
Old-Man-Young = Plant of Life
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it
This retold version of the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh the Hero, is a great, broken-down recount of the original, very difficult-to-read versions of The Epic of Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh is known to have been a king and god of a city called Uruk in Mesopotamia before Christ was born. Gilgamesh is described as part-man and part-god. After angering the citizens Uruk by overpowering and trying to fully control them, the Gods create and send down a friend for Gilgamesh, named Enkidu, in hopes to teach G ...more
Ms. Argueta
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hero-etec-545
Sandra C Argueta
March 25, 2016
ETEC 545: Hero
McCaughrean, Geraldine. The Epic of Gilgamesh the Hero. Illustrated by Parkins, David

In this ancient Epic hero myth, considered to be the oldest narrative written on clay tablets in cuneiform, we find the king of Uruk, Babylonia, Gilgamesh. This king is part human and part God. The gods have bestowed upon him great beauty and power and consequently, he finds himself feeling a bit bored and taking it out on his subjects. The gods who are always aware o
Jason R.
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean is a folklore written for children and young adults. Gilgamesh is an epic poem that is considered to be one of the first great works of literature. It is not clear if Gilgamesh was real or a merely a hero in a poem but reemerged story by Geraldine McCaughean helps tell the tale in a way that children and young adults can understand and grasp the many concepts of the tale. Gilgamesh the Hero is a story about the King of Uruk named Gilgamesh and all the ...more
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens-lit
An engaging, illustrated, re-telling of the Gilgamesh epic for children. Some material seems to have been added, possibly to "round out" the tale for children--making it a bit more- or probably differently- didactic than the original. However, the main story line follows translations from the fragments on twelve cuniform tablets discovered in the 19th century in ruins of the palaces at Ninevah (now Mosel,Iraq),including the very ancient (~2000 years before the Bible)tale of The Flood--and Utnapi ...more
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Geraldine McCaughrean was born in 1951 and brought up in North London. She studied at Christ Church College of Education, Canterbury and worked in a London publishing house for 10 years before becoming a full-time writer in 1988. She has written over 120 books, 50 short plays for schools, and a radio play.

Her adult novels include Fires’ Astonishment (1990) and The Ideal Wife (1997), but she is bes

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