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Telling the Myth,
This review is from: A-Maze-ing Minotaur (Hardcover)
Greek Myths are fantastic. They are full of action, characters and more gore than a trunk load of video nasties, but how do you tell them to children? Remove the grisly bits for one and write them in a way that will appeal to the modern adolescent. This is exactly what writer Juliet Rix and illustrator Juliet Snape set out to do in `A-Maze-ing Minotaur'. Anything that uses the word "a-maze-ing", must appeal to kids, right?
I have read about the likes of Theseus and the Minotaur several times in the past and I have always felt like the tale is told as a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. We disregard it as truth nowadays, but there is still the essence of the story that was written to be seen as real. This means that an action packed story set in a Labyrinth may be dulled down slightly to fit in with an academic sense of history and in places this is how `A-Maze-ing Minotaur' feels.
The book is written for the slightly older child; 6-10 years who has an interest in non-fiction as much as fiction. It is only right that Rix should stick to the myth that `A-Maze-ing Minotaur' is based on, but is she a little too respectful? There are a many words on each page that try to explain a lot of story in a small space. The style seems to be both academic and slightly patronising at the same time. Mixing in-depth concepts with basic language sits a little uneasily together. Better to treat the young reader as having the ability to understand what is going on without the need for simple language.
The slight academic feel to the book continues in Snape's illustrations, but here it works better. The style has a sandy feel to it; a cross between `Where's Wally' and Hieroglyphics. Large parts of the story are told in the pictures. As King Minos sits in his palace, underneath you can see the Labyrinth. There is great fun just spotting where the Minotaur is as the action is going on elsewhere. In fact, it feels like there is more fun discovering what is happening in the pictures than the story itself. This is a credit to the illustrations, but does highlight the dry nature of the words.
Despite feeling a little like a school book, `A-Maze-ing Minotaur' is still a good book. There is real educative value here and for a child with a penchant for learning, the book will be fascinating. Nix stays true to the myth so the book also acts as a perfect gateway novel to introduce a child to a fascinating and fantastic world of Greek Mythology. Original review on bookbag.co.uk.