Loukas and the Game of Chance, by Anthony L. Manna | Dedicated Review
The Children’s Book Review | January 1, 2020
Written by Anthony L. Manna
Illustrated by Donald Babisch
Age Range: 5-10
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Mascot Books (October 1, 2019)
What to Expect: Greek Folklore, Snake Charmer
Based loosely on the Greek folktale “The Snake Tree,” a snake charmer meets his match and finds his destiny in this story of advice and consolation.
“May courage be your compass.
May caution be your guide.
May good fortune be your reward.”
A fisherman, his wife and their son, Loukas, live in a weathered cottage on a cliff overlooking drab villages and wooded hills. Loukas bears the name of a legendary miracle worker and plays a wooden flute to pass the time while fishing. When Loukas encounters a leopard snake, known for bringing good luck to households, he plays his flute music for it. The snake, in turn, leaves him three gold coins. Loukas is grateful and knows that his family will no longer be hungry. Each time he plays his flute for the snake, he receives three more coins. Loukas names the generous snake Lambros, and his family uses their restored wealth to rebuild their lives and help those in need.
As time passes, Loukas comes of age and marries Thera, and together they have two children. Other villagers begin to feel jealous of their riches, rumors spread of where the wealth is coming from, and Lambros sadly passes away. During a card game, Loukas gives in to his anger toward a rumor-spreading merchant and gambles away his home and family. If Loukas is to regain the life he has plundered away with his own arrogance, he will need to search deep within the island for those that can help him. Destiny and her son, Illian, and daughter, Luna, are the only ones that may be able to guide him but they are incredibly hard to find and known to be scrupulous when it comes to helping those that have done wrong.
Author Anthony L. Manna is an experienced and award-winning storyteller with a penchant for Greek folklore. Music is woven buoyantly and continuously throughout the tale. Intriguing and captivating characters are in abundance, such as the flamboyant Keeper of the Forest—the sage offering counsel from middle to end. Perseverance is a key theme—when Loukas thinks about giving up, he is driven by hope. Readers will discover that only those that are willing and brave enough to enter the depths of their despair will be healed. Donald Babisch’s pen and ink illustrations add to the level of mysticism with their alluring tangled patterns.
If a story steeped in Greek folklore that demonstrates how personal growth will flourish from mutual respect and kindness appeals to you, Loukas and the Game of Chance will certainly fit the bill.
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About the Author
Anthony L. Manna’s first collaboration with Soula Mitakidou, Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale, illustrated by Giselle Potter, was an ALA-ALSC Notable Book, a Marion Vannett Ridgway Award winner, and a New York Public Library Best Book for Children. Another collaboration of theirs, The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece, illustrated by Giselle Potter, was a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of 2012. They also collaborated on the anthology, Folktales from Greece: A Treasury of Delights. Anthony’s middle-grade fantasy, Loukas and the Game of Chance was a 2019 Book Excellence Award Finalist. Anthony has worked with children and teens in drama, writing, and storytelling. He has been an actor and a director of children’s theater, and has taught in schools and universities in Turkey, Greece, Albania, and the United States. He divides his time between Ohio and Arizona.
About the Illustrator
Donald Babisch is an artist and art educator who has worked with children in elementary and middle school. An alumnus of New York University’s graduate art education program, he is a former adjunct instructor in the art education program at Youngstown State University in Ohio. The author of articles in several art education journals, Donald is both the author and illustrator of Who is That Peeking in My Windows? Having received an Honorable Mention for a felted piece he exhibited at the Crooked Tree Arts Center in 2014, he is now exploring and creating large needle felted portraits, scenes, and allegories. An avid gardener, he lives in a log cabin in northeast Ohio.
Dedicated Reviews allow authors and illustrators to gain prompt visibility for their work. This non-biased review of “Loukas and the Game of Chance” was sponsored by Anthony L. Manna. Learn more about getting a book review …