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Gilgamesh the Hero

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  382 Ratings  ·  60 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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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.
Aug 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 6th-grade
Gilgamesh the Hero is about the adventures of Gilgamesh, a king who lived a long time ago in Mesopotamia in the city of Uruk. This book is pretty action packed with some scariness and sadness and happiness. I did not like some of the sad parts, but I did like reading about Gilgamesh's adventures. I really liked the illustrations as well. I also liked learning about what a town in ancient Mesopotamia would be like.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-alouds, 2017
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!
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
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
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
Sandra Carolina
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
This interpretation of King Gilgamesh’s epic journey to become immortal is filled with riveting action and heart-wrenching feeling. The farther he goes from his kingdom, the less of a king he becomes until no one, not even himself, recognizes the man he used to be.

Gilgamesh starts off as being young and foolish but gradually gains wisdom on his travels. But it is the story of his deep and abiding love for his friend Enkidu that provides the impetus for his trek and this emotion shines above all
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
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-calvin
When studying ancient civilizations with my son I wanted to him to experience oral or written traditions from each. Gilgamesh, from ancient Mesopotamia, is one of the oldest and most intriguing epics and I considered its inclusion very important, but much of the original tale is questionable reading material for young children (mainly for sex and violence). I selected this version for my son because it was a highly recommended adaptation for his reading level and maturity, and neither of us was ...more
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
I teach my children at home and we are currently covering ancient literature. I had read Gilgamesh before and knew it would be a bit too much for a younger reader (prostitution for example), and yet I didn't want to cut and paste the story to make it acceptable for a young reader. Enter Geraldine McCaughrean's version.

We read Geraldine McCaughrean's version and were very thrilled with it.

Her writing is vivid and captivating, "A single scream of terror hung in the air: it had the color of red dus
Mary Jo Garcia-Brown
Feb 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
The Gilgamesh is the oldest written story known to man, and it's about a king who lived in what is now Iraq three thousand years before the birth of Christ. His epic adventures along with those of his friend, Enkidu, predate those of Odysseus by perhaps two thousand years. Gilgamesh's stories have influenced every hero tale in Western literature since then, including the Bible.

The original Gilgamesh was full of all those things that make a story about humanity human: love, sex, jealousy, death,
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a children's version of the epic tale. I've never read the original, but understand that she took and R rated story and made it PG. Parents should read it before just to make sure they're okay with what was left in. It is a great allegory for Man's search for happiness and how we are changed through tragedy that comes inevitably to all of us. It is rich in Christian symbolism, especially when he goes on his quest for immortality. That's probably not something you expect from ancient Sume ...more
Inside Cover: This is one of the oldest stories in the world, and it's about many 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.

Sad to say, I was never taught the story of Gilgamesh in my childhood. Praise God for the opportunity now. To my knowledge, this is one of the
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
It’s been more than a decade since I read Gilgamesh, so I can’t make an especially well-informed comparison between it and Geraldine McCaughrean’s retelling for young people. But McCaughrean does cover the essentials of the story--one of the earliest surviving epics--and, thereby, produce a wonderful introduction to ancient literature. In fact, she impressed me so much that I’m hunting down several other classic-adaptions that she has authored. Also, the illustrations by David Parkins are unforg ...more
Lisa Nimz
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa by: got it out of the book I got from Abby
Shelves: picture-book, classic
This is the oldest recorded story known on the planet. There's something awesome about that!

I'd heard of this from my Uncle Jon, and then again on Star Trek: The Next Generation (the best of the Star Treks).

I'm looking for an adult version of the epic as well. I have it on CD, and am hoping the Skokie Public Library tracks down the print copy so I can read and listen at the same time!

Until then, as usual, I started below my reading level just to "get my feet wet," as they say. I enjoyed the stor
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
We found this book barely readable. I kept wanting to make myself read it and then dreading it. I will only read aloud books that I love and that are enjoyable to read. Maybe it was because I was trying to read it to a six-year-old, I don't know. The book was illustrated and the language had been simplified for children yet there were strange turns of phrase and vocabulary that I had to keep stopping to explain. We then read Gilgamesh: a verse narrative, which we thoroughly enjoyed, and never fi ...more
Nov 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
I don't know enough about the archaeology and literary history of this most ancient story to judge it on faithfulness to the original, but this is a great glimpse into mythology and storytelling. Full of wonderful and evocative description and emotion it provides a great introduction to this story for young and old. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and would recommend it highly for those interested in the myth of Gilgamesh or Near Eastern myth.
Cailin Schneider
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Gilgamesh was a king. He put his men to work without reasoning and he wanted to go down in fame. one day Gilgamesh got a friend, Enkidu. When Enkidu died of sickness, Gilgamesh realized he did not want to die. So he set out on a quest for eternal life.

I liked this book because it taught me a lot about everything they believed in at that point in time and I loved reading about all the adventures he went on to try to find the secret to eternal life.
Sep 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Each of us (my two teen sons and I) are reading a different version of the Epic of Gilgamesh. I'm reading this one because I've often heard of Geraldine McCraughrean but I have never read anything of hers.

Update: This is a wonderful retelling of the story of Gilgamesh. It avoids the seamier aspects, yet coveys with great energy and pathos the adventures, sufferings and growth of Gilgamesh.
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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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“The gods never meant you to live forever, so why spoil they life they did give you? Is a rainbow any less beautiful because it's short-lived? Or because you can't grasp hold of it? Consider, man. Perhaps it is beautiful expressly because of that.” 1 likes
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