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The Corinthian Girl

Book Synopsis

“It was time for the first race to begin. The crowed gasped as the Corinthian girl exploded from the starting point!”

The Corinthian girl has no name…abandoned as a baby, she is now a slave in Athens. But her Master is a famous Olympic champion. He spots the amazing athletic talent of the Corinthian girl, and realises she could be a star at the Games in Olympia. From dawn till dusk she trains – running, jumping, throwing the javelin and the discus. One year later she is at the great Olympic stadium for the race of her life.

Can the Corinthian girl win the crown and find a name and a home at last?

Based on the real-life ancient Heraean Games for women and girls, held at Olympia, this is a thrilling story of athletic achievement against all the odds.

Our Review Panel says...

In Ancient Athens, a young slave is known only as ‘The Corinthian Girl’ in a reference to where she had been found, left by her father who couldn’t afford to keep her. She grows up learning to serve her new Athenian family by fetching, carrying, cleaning and scrubbing. Girls were unimportant; slave girls even less so. Very occasionally, she is able to play with the youngest son and her athletic talents are noticed by the master of the house, himself a famous athlete. He forms an ambitious plan for her – will it succeed?

This inspiring short story is based on the Heraean Games, a real event held every four years in honour of Hera and only open to female athletes. It is accompanied by gorgeously subtle but graphic watercolour illustrations that suit the subject matter perfectly both in style and colour palette. Readers who have enjoyed Escape from Pompeiiwhich has been used in classrooms for years alongside the Romans topics – will immediately recognise Christina Balit’s distinctive style.

I was pleased to see these lesser-known Greek games brought to light to counterbalance the male perspective which dominates the study of Ancient Greece. Although as a story it is plausible rather than likely, it’s stirring, and the factual pages at the back address potential misconceptions by explaining the context and introducing the small number of key sources. Much has to be imagined because of the limited evidence for the lives of women in Ancient Athens.

A highly recommendable picturebook to share alongside study of Ancient Greece.

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The Corinthian Girl: Teaching Notes

A resource pack with teaching notes and activities provided by the publisher to accompany the book The Corinthian Girl.

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