With the help of a beautiful princess, Theseus solves the mystery of the Labyrinth.
King Minos, ruler of the island of Crete, is “a very
powerful man—but he [is] not a very nice one.” In his infamous Labyrinth, he
keeps the dreaded monster known as the Minotaur, who is fed 14 young Athenians
brought every nine years from across the sea. Athenian prince Theseus wants to
end the carnage, so he joins the latest group. Fortunately for him, Minos'
daughter Ariadne falls in love with him. She gives him a small sword to hide in
his tunic and a ball of golden thread that he clutches to his heart as he
sleeps. Next morning, Theseus ties the thread to the Labyrinth door, clutches
the sword tightly, slays the Minotaur and makes his way out. Theseus, his
friends and Ariadne sail in triumph back to Athens—the book omits his
abandonment of Ariadne on the island of Naxos and his carelessness with the
sails that results in his father’s suicide. The book’s raison d’être is an
Escher-like spread that gives readers a chance to “navigate” the multilevel
maze along with Theseus, but it does not live up to the hype on the front cover.
The painterly two-page illustrations and blocks of heightened prose reinforce
the majesty of the myth, though both components sometimes seem fusty.
A middling treatment all around. (Picture book/myth. 6-9)