This Newbery Honor title from 1934 is surprisingly modern and utterly delightful. Includes an appreciation of the book by librarian and author Betsy Bird.
On ancient Crete, a curious and courageous girl named Inas seeks adventure. She dives to the bottom of the Aegean Sea to collect sponges. She somersaults over bulls in the ritual bull-vaulting competition. Best of all, she soars from cliffs wearing the glider-wings that her father, legendary inventor Daidalos, builds for her. Inas is close to Kadmos, the son of the Captain of the Royal Fleet, who is by turns enthralled and exasperated by her daring. And she is loyal to her friend Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, when Ariadne finds herself suddenly and overwhelmingly attracted to Theseus, a young Greek who has been captured and imprisoned in the palace’s Labyrinth.
Daidalos and Inas must work in secret on their gliders, hiding them in caves along the rocky coast. For while father and daughter are logical, scientific thinkers, their countrymen are simple and superstitious. Encouraged by Kres, a jealous rival of Daidalos, they begin to suspect the pair of practicing sorcery.
When Princess Ariadne asks Inas for help in freeing Theseus, Inas doesn’t fully realize the trouble she is about to bring upon her family. Meanwhile the people of Crete, manipulated by Kres, have formed a search party and are close to discovering the gliders in the caves. When they do, Daidalos and Inas must flee for their lives. Will she ever again see Ariadne, Kadmos, or Crete—the only home she’s ever known?
The Winged Girl of Knossos is fun, fast-paced adventure that puts a new twist on the Greek myths of Icarus and Theseus. Rich with historical detail about life in ancient Crete, this 1934 Newbery Honor book was ahead of its time and will find many fans, both girls and boys, in today’s young readers.
"Hair-raising moments aplenty move this story along. Gobs of rich detail about the Minoan world are woven in as well...I love when these excellent, long-forgotten Newbery Honor books become available. This would make a dandy choice for voracious readers ages 9 and up." —Orange Marmalade Books
"In the wonderfully energetic Inas, [Berry has] created a heroine for the ages, one of the first and most memorable self-determining girls in the Newbery canon...a rediscovery that no fan of children’s historical fiction, myth-inspired adventure stories, or Newbery-award books should miss." —The Emerald City Book Review
"When push comes to shove, Katniss Everdeen has nothing on Inas, daughter of Daidalos."—Betsy Bird
Erick Berry was the pen name of Allena Champlin (1892–1974), an award-winning author and illustrator. She was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, studied art in Paris, and spent time in Africa. She wrote nonfiction about life in Africa as well as historical fiction. She was married to author Herbert Best and illustrated many of his books in addition to her own.
Betsy Bird is Evanston Public Library’s Collection Development Manager. She has served on the Newbery Award committee and written for The Horn Book. Currently, she runs the blog “A Fuse 8 Production” on the School Library Journal website.