Wednesday, 26 June 2019

The Boy Who Could Fly


The Boy Who Could Fly and Other Magical Plays for Children by Ursula Dubosarsky, illustrated by Amy Golbach (Second Looks) PB RRP $15.99 ISBN 9780994528094

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This is the second collection of plays published by this Australian imprint of Christmas Press. The author is a well-known, prize-winning author who generally writes novels. In The Boy Who Could Fly, Dubosarsky has eleven plays of varying lengths for children based on ancient Greek and Roman myths.

The first play named for the title is about Icarus, the youth who flew too close to the sun with the wax melting the wings attached to his back. In the version, Icarus’s father is Daedalus, a famous inventor from Athens, exiled to the Greek island of Crete who comes up with the idea of the wings so he can escape.

Other plays feature well-known Greek myth identities such as Pygmalion, Echo, Narcissus, Arachne and King Midas, and some lesser known Greeks such as Erysichthon, Io, Philemon, Atalanta and Theseus. 

Each of the plays are loosely based on their adventures. ‘Arachne, Spider Girl’, for instance, is a poor peasant girl whose father is Idmon, a wool dyer. Nymphs and Dryads, children from vineyards and rivers, admire Arachne’s weaving while Arachne boasts that her weaving is superior to that of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom. Disguised as an old woman, the goddess seeks out Arachne and challenges her to a weaving competition. Of course, Arachne finishes up transformed into a spider.

Each of the plays in this book have largish casts which can be performed in classrooms by all or most of the students. The dialogue is fast-paced, there's occasional humour and plenty of action. Recommended.

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