Loukas and the Game of Chance
by Anthony L. Manna
Mascot Books

"He also bore his father's slightly croooked smile that, were it not for the man's friendly manner, might easliy be mistaken for an angry scowl."

Young Loukas is a member of a poor family. His talent is flute playing, and he attracts the attention of a snake named Lambros, who dances to the music and leaves gold coins each time. This happens often, and Loukas's family makes a transition from poverty to wealth. The snake, who is able to communicate in a soft, raspy voice, asks to be buried after death by Loukas, and Lambros gives explicit instructions for the ritual.

As a young adult, Loukas marries and has a family. Lambros passes away and is buried according to his expressed wishes. One day, Loukas begins to gamble with one who is more accomplished at the game. His arrogance manifests to the extent that, even after losing heavily in the betting, Loukas stakes his family to the man. Loukas loses and wanders in despair until he meets the legendary Keeper of the Forest who, using wisdom and humor, admonishes him about searching for Destiny, her son Iiion—"The Sun," and daughter Luna—"The Moon. Ultimately, Loukas is directed by Destiny and her family to redeem his fortune and life.

The resolution rests in the mutual respect for and honor of each other that he and Lambros enjoy even after the snake's death. Additionally, after his fall, Loukas heeds the advice of his wise counselors. Both circumstances are essential to the young man's finding the means for his redemption. This morality tale, based in the Greek tradition of storytelling, is beautifully written and punctuated by powerful illustrations from Donald Babisch.

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