Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq (Aesop Prize (Awards))

by Kathy Henderson

Hardcover, 2006



Local notes

second copy to be processed




Candlewick (2006), Hardcover, 80 pages


An ancient Sumerian tale about the youngest and weakest of eight brothers who, caught up in an ill-advised war, uses his wits and courage and eventually becomes king.

Physical description

80 p.; 11.28 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member Olisia
This was a great story of a young hero. It shows anyone can be a hero.
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Incorporating two ancient Sumerian poems - written down on clay tablets approximately 5,000 years ago, and rediscovered in the nineteenth century, they were only recently (in the 1970s) translated - Kathy Henderson tells the tale of Lugalbanda, a prince of the Mesopotamian city of Uruk, and
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(eventually) the father of the epic hero Gilgamesh. The oldest written story on earth (as far as our scholarship extends thus far), it incorporates characters and creatures from Sumerian mythology, and concerns a war being waged by Lugalbanda's father, King Enmerkar, who is determined to conquer the beautiful city of Aratta, and use its treasures to glorify Uruk, and its patron goddess, Inanna.

Lugalbanda, who insists on accompanying his father's army on their trek to Aratta, becomes ill in the mountains, and is left behind in a cave by his loving brothers. Beseeching the gods and goddesses of the Sumerian pantheon for aid, he is cured, and, in his own inimitable style, then wins the favor of the powerful Anzu birds, who help him on his journey to retake his father's army, and who give him those blessings - such as the ability to run without becoming tired - that allow him to aid King Enmerkar, and prevent the utter destruction of Arrata.

A fascinating story in its own right, Lugalbanda's tale also has the distinction of being both ancient and new, and the dizzying sense of discovery such stories always give me (I felt this most recently with The Dark Star of Itza: The Story of a Pagan Princess, which introduced me to an epic tale from the ancient Mayan civilization) made the reading experience a powerful one! My friend Miriam, who recommended this to me (many, many thanks, Miriam!), highlighted many of the appealing aspects of the story itself in her own excellent review, with which I am in complete agreement, but the artwork also deserves a mention, as I found it immensely engaging as well. Jane Ray has done quite a bit of work with fairy-tales and mythology, and her style, with its copious uses of golden accents, seems very well suited to the story here. I liked her depictions of the men of Uruk, and of Innana, but my favorite painting was the one in which Lugalbanda, lying on his side, looks out on the world from his cave.

This is just a wonderful, wonderful book, and although a picture-book, one I would recommend to anyone, young or old, who is interested in ancient Sumer, or ancient epics in general. The author's afterword is quite interesting, but now I'm hungry for more! Have the translations she mentioned been collected in an anthology of some kind? Clearly I need to do more research. Also, clearly I need to reread Gilgamesh!
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LibraryThing member Phill242
One of the earliest known written tales, Lugalbanda is about a boy who, with courage and kindness befriends and tames the fearsome Anzu bird. Middle Eastern setting.
LibraryThing member bp0128bd
One of the earliest known written tales, Lugalbanda is about a boy who, with courage and kindness befriends and tames the fearsome Anzu bird. Middle Eastern setting.
LibraryThing member bokeef2
Bryan O'Keeffe

I did not have any idea of this book before I read it. However after reading this book I did enjoy reading it. I read a little bit about the book after I read it and was extremely surprised at how old this story was. I really loved how the illustrations looked like they were
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from that time period thousands of years ago. I really enjoyed that the ancient epic was turned into a children's story. I thought that the way to illustrations were done was completely appropriate for how it should have been done. The story felt more authentic because of that. I felt that Lugalbanda could have been an actual boy during this time period. He could have also possibly helped out in the war as well. It was really nice being able to be exposed to middle eastern culture from this book. I think that kids are able to learn from this book and learn from the message; never back down in the face of adversity.
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½ (22 ratings; 3.8)
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