A-maze-ing Myths!

This book is unreal!! When I ordered Greek Myths and Mazes illustrated by Jan Bajtlik for H I had no idea how big it was going to be – at 37ish x 27ishcm, it is HUGE! And a good thing, because the mazes are absolutely mesmerising: beautifully drawn, with intricate details and winding paths. There’s a great mix of the familiar – Trojan War, Minotaur in his labyrinth, Odysseus’ adventures – with some lesser-seen stories like Prometheus, Hephaestus’ Forge, and the Greek creation myth. There’s even some history thrown in too, from the Palace of Knossos (c.20th-14th centuries BC) to a range of 5th/4th century BC topics like the Olympics, the Acropolis, the theatre and houses.

The mazes are often accompanied by lovely little annotations and notes, and there are also longer stories and explanations at the back. It is written in a very accessible way, and the mazes themselves also provide plenty to talk about. H is only 4, so some of the explanations are a little advanced for his age; I usually make up shorter stories to go along with the pictures, or play games like ‘Can you find…?’ He absolutely loves tracking the paths through the mazes though, chatting about what he can see (especially if there’s any sort of weird monster) and can usually get quite far by himself. I wasn’t brave enough to let him loose with pens, but pencil worked just fine!

winding through the famous figures of Troy on the battlefield

I obviously love the Trojan war page with the little people based on real Ancient Greek vases – including one of my favourites, Achilles bandaging Patroclus’ wounded arm:

Red figure kylix, c.500BC Sosias Painter – Antikensammlung Berlin F2278

H’s favourite so far is the Minotaur, who he decided to go and visit instead of actually escaping the labyrinth…

a visit to the Minotaur

He’s asked to do the mazes lots of times now, so definitely a hit. Given how beautiful the book is, it would appeal to anyone with a passing interest in Greek mythology – or solving mazes! – and the intricacy of the interactive angle would encourage even the most reluctant reader. A fixture on my future gift lists, for sure!

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