Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden,
Theseus and the Minotaur

Barefoot, 2013, ISBN 978-1-84686-781-1

This is an effective retelling of a famous Greek myth. Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden are story-tellers, and their abilities to draw audiences into a tale are well utilised. The language is simple but striking. The characters are well defined, and the plot is rendered clearly and compellingly. It is an exciting story. The Minotaur is the terrifying son of King Minos of Crete. Half-human and half-bull, he gains the taste for human flesh. Every kingdom has to send seven young men to satisfy his hunger. The King of Athens is forced to send his son Theseus to what seems a certain death. Theseus slaughters the beast with the help of Minos’s daughter Ariadne, then sails from Crete with her, leaving Minos and his wife devastated. Impressively, this version includes the story of Daedalus and Icarus, helping children see how the Greek myths intertwine. Daedalus made the labyrinth to incarcerate the Minotaur, and is himself imprisoned in it after the Minotaur’s death. There he works out how to make wings, leading to their flight, the fall of Icarus, and Daedalus’ grief. There is plenty more pathos. Theseus leaves Ariadne to her fate on a deserted island. Returning to Athens in triumph, he forgets his promise to change the colour of the sail on his boat if he escapes death, and watches his father throw himself from a cliff as he spots the black sail. Quite a tale! Lots for key stage 2 children to enjoy, especially with the evocative illustrations by Carole Hénaff. Rick Riordan has made Greek legends popular. It’s good to have attractive versions (this one is part of a beautifully produced series by the same authors) for readers who may find the Percy Jackson novels a bit complex.