There is a fresco (wall painting) at Knossos Palace on the Greek island of Crete that depicts a young man vaulting over a bull while a young woman stands at either end of the bull, one of whom is holding its horns. The fresco was painted around 4,000 years ago.
The legend of the Minotaur tells of a creature, half-man and half-bull, that was kept in the Labyrinth—a maze—at Knossos Palace. Theseus, so the story goes, came to Crete and slew the Minotaur with the help of the goddess Aphrodite and Ariadne, daughter of Minos, the king of Crete.
The connecting link between the fresco and the legend is bulls. Bulls were big in Crete, and appear everywhere in statuary and paintings.
My wife and I have been to Greece five times. We’ve visited Knossos Palace and seen the artifacts in the museums. I have kept logs of all our trips, and I’ve written stories and poems based on what we’ve seen.
I’ve also written a series of stories for my two grandsons, Matthew and Mason, in which they are the heroes. In these stories, they are often whisked back in time to a historical setting.
My story for my grandsons, “Dancing with Bulls,” based on the fresco, seemed to be especially appropriate for being published as an illustrated book for young teens. It has plenty of adventure and suspense, and it’s in a historical setting.
I talked to Janelle Carbajal, a talented artist, about this, and she agreed to draw the illustrations. I think you will agree that she did a marvelous job.
I tried to put enough realism in the book so that there might be some truth to it. Here is a summary:
Matthew and Mason are on vacation in Greece with their parents. While exploring the ruins at Knossos Palace on the island of Crete, they wander off and suddenly find themselves at Knossos in its prime, 4,000 years ago, when the Minoans were in power. Captured by guards, they barely escape execution and are forced to join a team of slaves who are training as bull dancers. That means they have to dance with a live bull in front of Minoan royalty. Mason is picked to be a bull leaper along with a girl named Bracche. They have to vault onto the bull's back and off again without getting gored. Will they be able to survive this ordeal, and is there any chance they can escape and take the other members of their team with them?