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Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite
The Labyrinth: Selected Greek Myths for Reading and Remaking by Ada Masquen comprises twenty of the most familiar mythological stories, such as The Trojan Horse intriguingly re-titled The Ominous Gift, but they are only half told. The book is targeted at children between the ages of eight and twelve, who are less likely to know the ancient tales than their parents or teachers. The young readers are invited to end the stories, or “close the gap,” using their imaginations to decide what might have happened. They can then compare their ideas to the originals provided in part two of the book. As a child psychologist, university professor, and psychotherapist, Ms Masquen is highly qualified to write a book intended to stimulate children’s minds.
Ada Masquen has chosen many of my own favourites from the Greek myths that I remember being taught, and it was a delight to study them. I wish my teachers had had copies of The Labyrinth: Selected Greek Myths for Reading and Remaking; it had never occurred to me to wonder if they might have ended in a different way. Ms Masquen has gone much further than encouraging children to think how a story may have ended, or an object be achieved; she suggests illustrating stories, and even includes tips to impress parents! There’s a lovely one for a child on holiday in Greece taken to swim in the Aegean, with a warning to be sure that it isn’t the Ionian Sea. Achilles’ Heel is told in full, but this time children are invited to think why Achilles, who was strong, and brutal, had one weak point: his heel. None of the suggested exercises could be done quickly, and might well initiate class discussion: a clever educational book, ideal for use in schools.