About the Book: The Story of Antigone is a retelling of a Greek myth which forms part of Sophocles’ Theban trilogy of plays (the other two being Oedipus at Colonus and Oedipus the King).
A crow sits looking out for carrion after a bloody war. She watches, amused, as Antigone, distraught at the death of her brother and the negligence of his corpse out on the battlefield, decides to defy law and pays tribute to the body. For this, she is arrested by King Creon; the citizens of the city are dismayed by the King’s cruelty so he decides not to kill her but rather decrees that Antigone is sealed up in a cave. Tiresias, the blind seer, warns the King that killing the girl will result in the royal line being cursed. Too late, the King changes his mind. On returning to the cave with the intention of letting Antigone go free, Creon and his men discover she has killed herself. In immediate fulfilment of Tiresias’ prophecy, Antigone’s betrothed – Creon’s own son – stabs himself, and on hearing this news, his mother, the Queen, also dies by her own hand.
The crow and the Elders of the city end the story with their own morals.
Reasons for Selection: Ali Smith’s retelling of the Antigone story is told through the eyes of Crow. It is a dry, cynical point of view which offers lots of opportunities for discussion. The addition of the Dog character and the conversation between the two animal onlookers along with the Greek chorus provides a commentary which provokes readers to question and to challenge. The dialogue is modern and colloquial which seemingly underlines the relevance of the story to a modern reader. Laura Paoletti’s illustrations are sophisticated, subdued and reflective. A meaty text in spite of the low page count make this a great introduction to Greek classics for upper junior readers.
About Take One Book: The books in the Take One Book collection can be used in conjunction with the Take One Book website, or independently. Take One Book is Just Imagine’s programme for teaching reading and English using high quality literature. You can find further information and free exemplar units on the Take One Book website takeonebook.org
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