The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes

The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes
Silke Vry and Finn Dean
Prestel

Cleverly framing the topic as a metaphor for life, author Vry (who has a background in archaeology and art history) and illustrator Dean, present a survey including both historic and modern world mazes and labyrinths from various viewpoints. In so doing they encourage youngsters to ponder upon what fascinated those in bygone times and still does make these puzzles so appealing.

One thing that’s important to know at the outset of this journey is that a labyrinth is not a maze and a maze is not a labyrinth: the difference being that you cannot get lost in a labyrinth whereas you can in a maze. I vividly recall getting lost in Hampton Court maze on more than one occasion.

Have you ever thought about labyrinths in relation to the human body? that’s one of Vry’s considerations, offering the human brain, the ear and our entrails and intestines as exemplars.

Another theme looks at the the historical and mythological labyrinths and mazes; there’s the labyrinth Daedalus designed for King Minos in the ancient city of Crete, so the story goes.

Children will likely be amazed by the grand labyrinth with its rounded sides and eleven concentric circles, rich in symbolism, that is set into the floor stones in Chartres Cathedral.

Then there are labyrinths in nature too: the other day young relations of mine were thrilled to discover ammonite fossils in a Cotswold stream near where we live. There’s a spread devoted to natural world examples herein too.

There is SO much more than at first meets the eye – this is a philosophical book that can act as a kind of sacred space wherein time slows right down offering readers the opportunity of ‘being in the moment’, a meditative mode wherein there is potential for change and growth: in life, like a labyrinth, the path shifts in unexpected ways, sometimes diverting you from your goal, but ultimately leading you to the centre or your own centre. Try running a finger slowly along the lines of a labyrinth and feel its calming effect.

I could go on at length about this engrossing, alluringly illustrated book with its facts, exciting ideas and participatory invitations for maze/labyrinth drawing, but I’ll now just encourage you to get a copy for your family bookshelves, and classroom. collections – you’ll find lots of opportunities across the curriculum to share it with youngsters.

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