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ISLAND OF THE MINOTAUR by Sheldon Oberman

ISLAND OF THE MINOTAUR

Greek Myths of Ancient Crete

By Sheldon Oberman (Author) , Blair Drawson (Illustrator)

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-56656-531-6
Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Weaving across the boundaries between myth and history, Oberman connects 13 Crete-centered tales from unspecified sources into a series of related episodes. He opens with the birth of Zeus on (actually, within) Mount Dicte; ends with Theseus’s forcible removal of Queen Phaedra after the immense volcanic explosion that probably brought an end to the Minoan civilization; and in between includes the battle between the Titans and the Olympian gods, the tale of Europa and the bull, the arrival of the bronze giant Talus and its defeat by Medea (who is thoroughly villainized here), and Daedalus’s flight. Finally, he closes with a tantalizingly odd encounter between Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist, and a trio of Cretan women. Because Oberman veils the sex—the Minotaur is born after Poseidon’s white bull “attacked and terrified” Queen Pasiphaë in her bedchamber—while weaving in wooden, invented dialogue and details, the tales aren’t particularly authentic, and Drawson’s blocky caricatures are distractingly weird. Still, the unusual theme of this collection, and its historical links to the still-mysterious Minoans, will draw students of these ancient stories. (glossary of names) (Folktales. 8-12)