Wings of Icarus
written by Jenny Oldfield
illustrated by Bee Willey

Jenny Oldfield's Wings of Icarus
Illustrated by Bee Willey

Children's book review by Jane Finch

Ages 4-8

A Greek Legend and the Story of a Boy Who Could Fly

This is a modern re-telling of the Greek myth about Icarus. It is divided into five chapters and printed in large print with black and white drawings.

Icarus and his father are being held prisoner on the Greek island of Crete. Icarus dreams of what life must be like beyond the island and the Aegean Sea that surrounds it.

His father, Daedalus, is an inventor and comes up with a variety of ways for them to escape the island, but each attempt fails. Then he believes he has a brilliant idea. He builds wings for his son from wax and feathers.

He builds the Wings of Icarus.

Icarus becomes very impatient. His father is trying to attach his own wings but Icarus cannot wait and soars into the sky, leaving his father behind.

His father tried to warn him not to fly too close to the sun, but Icarus is too excited and takes no notice. He is mesmerised by the sun, its light and heat, and flies closer and closer.

Soon the heat of the sun melts the wax of the wings, and Icarus falls into the sea, and drowns.

His father is distraught, and names the place where Icarus fell the Sea of Icarus.

This book is part of the White Wolves Series and is suitable for more experienced readers at Year 3 (2nd Grade) level. Books in the White Wolves series are published in consultation with the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

What I like about this book is the way it deals with the re-telling of this Greek myth. Many will have heard of Icarus and the way he flew too near the sun, but this book explains the story in a clear and concise way.

There is a little bit of a geography lesson here, too, explaining the location of the island of Crete. In particular, I was entranced by the fact that the Sea of Icarus actually exists and continues to hold that name today.

This would be a great discussion point for geography, looking at maps and pinpointing the island and the place where Icarus supposedly fell to his death.

The book has 44 pages of text with small illustrations, so a child needs to have a reasonable reading ability to be able to read this comfortably.

The idea of escaping becomes all consuming for Icarus, and he takes no heed of caution or advice from his father in his desperate quest to leave the island.

Wings of Icarus is published by A & C Black Publishers Limited and is part of the Myths and Legends series.

Read more of Jane's reviews.

You may be interested in our fables with morals section.

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