Gorilla Greek

by Anne Wright, Gorilla Press 2013, Pb 72 pages, ISBN 9780992620004 (£11.00). 

As Greek (along with Latin) is one of the languages that can be taught in primary schools in the UK from 2014, this introduction to ancient Greek is timely.  The overall level of demand is high and by the end of the course they will have become much more language aware and familiar with a new alphabet and will have learned a considerable amount of Greek with the help of a stuffed gorilla.  This gorilla is a soft toy like a teddy bear and he features throughout in photographs where he has been dressed and posed in many different ways.  Each picture is captioned in Greek. Each of these has the gorilla dressed appropriately with a suitable prop and setting.  The commentary is in English and points out words connected to the Greek and gives other similar words to it.  At first the attention is to lexical matters but we arrive at some simple grammatical features later in the book.  The concern throughout is pure language; there is little Greek culture or civilisation in the form of myths and stories. Between the cute pictures of the cuddly toy are quite dense short chapters on the Greek words in English in such subject areas as mathematics, philosophy, geography, music and science.  Here the level is much more demanding and extends the Greek vocabulary well beyond the 53 words in the dictionary at back of book.  However, younger children will find the gorilla an attractive character and will enjoy seeing him in all his different guises and anyone brave enough to try introducing ancient Greek into a primary school will find this a valuable resource.  It is available from www.gorillagreek.com.