The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary Schmidt

Gary Schmidt’s THE LABORS OF HERCULES BEAL is remarkable whether Fred Berman reads to you in his layered rendition or Schmidt’s word leap off the page and into your heart. There is a driving force in narration, plot & the character of the hero, a 7th grader who has a mix of determination, resilience and resentment when his teacher assigns him the task of performing 12 labors of the mythical hero in present-time settings. All this despite Hercules’ concealed truth, his grief over his parents’ recent death. Hercules is in turns witty, sarcasm, and wonderstruck. The many minor characters are thoroughly convincing.making it believable as Hercules’ view of family, friends, community and life expands. There is balance in the action of the 12 labors, Hercules’ introspection and reflection, and the emotional arc of the many characters.