Perseus: Puer Ex Seripho

Ch. 3 - Medusa TransformedComing Spring-Summer 2017

Perseus: Puer Ex Seripho is a novel which I wrote for my Latin classes this year.  This year was my first year teaching Latin without a textbook (previously I had dabbled in both the Ecce Romani series and the Cambridge Latin series).  My goals in writing Perseus were as follows

1. The books must have a compelling narrative that my students would want to read.  Every chapter ends in a cliffhanger (and sometimes one chapter contains multiple surprises.  I also changed small details of the original myth in order for the story to fit into a modern young adult fantasy novel genre.  In my novel, Perseus does not travel alone, but brings along two companions.  The gods also help Perseus in less obvious ways than simply showing up and handing him stuff.   Furthermore I decided to keep the details of Perseus family and origins a secret until about midway through the book–therefore recasting some of the plot as a bit of a mystery that Perseus has to unravel.  There’s still a lot of myth and culture preserved in the book to provide interesting tangents in classroom discussion, if you would like to steer it in that direction.

My Latin III students gave me great feedback regarding the chapters of the rough draft they read.  The average Latin III student was able to cold read a 500 word chapter in roughly 5-7 minutes.  Most only needed two or three words glossed.

2. Significantly, the vocabulary is sheltered.  The novel in its second draft is 6700 words long (though I’m still paring it down), and my goal is for the novel to contain 250 unique Latin words (not counting words glossed at the bottom of some pages, which was necessary in order to tell parts of the story).  It’s not quite there, but getting closer in my second draft. I have attempted to include as many high frequency words as I could.  This novel is directed at my Latin II intermediate students, but could also be used in a tradition Latin classroom (though I would not recommend forcing students to translate all 6700 words).

3. The grammar is not sheltered.  In this book you will find passive voice, various uses of the subjunctive, indirect statement, conditional clauses, ablative absolutes, etc.  In short, whatever I needed to tell the story and give the narrative some variety.  The grammar is not meant to be parsed and analyzed; rather I have attempted to make the story flow naturally, and the “advanced” structures (whatever that means) should be clear to students from context.  No grammar notes are included (on purpose).

4. I included some illustrations in order to make the book more approachable and attractive to students.  I tried to make the pictures evocative in such a way that students would want to know what was going to happen.  I tried to carefully be mysterious enough that the pictures didn’t give away any major plot points.  WARNING: I’m not a professional artist.  I just have a tablet and drawing app.  I can’t really paint or draw, but I can doodle.  The pictures are basically enhanced doodles. Perhaps eventually I can partner with an artist to include more professional pictures in my future books.

I plan of self-publishing the novel this spring or early summer.  I have some awesome fellow Latin teachers looking over the second draft and giving me some feedback as I prepare the final publication copy.  In a future post I’ll share details about how to purchase a copy.

Ch. 6 - Caduceus

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