cover image Theseus and the Minotaur

Theseus and the Minotaur

Yvan Pommaux, trans. from the French by Richard Kutner. Candlewick/Toon Graphics, $16.95 (56p) ISBN 978-1-935179-61-0

French author-artist Pommaux offers a solid graphic retelling of the life of Theseus, first published in France. Perhaps referencing the oral traditions through which the myths were first disseminated, the story is bookended by nighttime scenes on a boat in the Aegean Sea, where an elderly man recounts Theseus’s story to a boy and girl. From there, Pommaux offers clean pencil-and-ink images that range from small horizontal panels to larger scenes, colored in pale tan, green, pink, and blue. Like many myths, Theseus’s legend has a few details that require some sensitivity when recasting the story for younger audiences. “Unable to resist [Poseidon’s] passions,” Theseus’s mother-to-be, Aethra, is “swept... up in a watery embrace” by the god while bathing. Later, Pommaux draws Pasiphaë climbing into a hollow cow “to get closer to the white bull” that Poseidon has made her fall in love with; soon after, she gives birth to the Minotaur. (Pommaux also lets readers’ imaginations do the work with regard to gory details of Theseus’s heroic deeds and the Minotaur’s bloodthirstiness.) Character bios, pronunciations, and an index round out a handsomely illustrated introduction to a classical hero. Ages 7–10. (Aug.)■