David Elliott turns a classic on its head: this rough and rowdy retelling of the Minotaur myth in verse will have readers reevaluating one of mythology's most infamous monsters.


Garnering six starred reviews, this update of the timeless story of Theseus and the Minotaur has been called “beautifully clever,” “a literary feast fit for the gods,” "powerful and engrossing," "irresistible, slick, and sharp," "a genre of its own," and "rude...crude, and it's a whole bunch of fun."

Resurrected from the dark depths of the labyrinth, this fresh, deliciously shocking, and darkly comedic novel-in-verse takes on the Theseus and Minotaur myth and shines a light on one of history's most infamous monsters.

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  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9781328596338

  • ISBN-10: 1328596338

  • Pages: 224

  • Price: $9.99

  • Publication Date: 03/26/2019

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 14,15,16

  • Grade(s): 9-12

David Elliott

David Elliott

David Elliott is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books for young people, including the picture books Finn Throws a Fit!  and the New York Times best-selling And Here's to You!. He is the author of the critically acclaimed verse novels, Bull, which received six starred reviews, and Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc, which was shortlisted for The American Library in Paris Book Award and is the recipient of the Claudia Lewis Award for poetry. A native of Ohio, David now lives (and writes) in New Hampshire with his wife and their Dandie Dinmont terrier, Quiggy. Learn more about David by visiting davidelliottbooks.com.
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  • reviews

    "Beautifully clever."—Weekend Edition Saturday 


    ? “Razor-sharp rhyme schemes and sly, vicious humor make Bull a bawdy yet sophisticated romp, a literary feast fit for the gods.” – Shelf Awareness, starred review 


    ? "Elliott contemporizes the ancient story of blackmail, betrayal, and revenge with humor, poignancy, and profanity . . . . the personalities and voices Elliott brings to these mythical characters make this powerful and engrossing book a genre of its own." —Publishers Weekly, starred review 


    ? "...Elliott’s clever verse version of the classical story of the Minotaur: its title, Bull, is topically and colloquially apt." —Horn Book, starred review 


    ? “There’s nothing half-blooded or Disneyfied in David Elliott’s energetic, multi- voiced verse novel retelling . . . . Brief, useful notes explain both the liberties taken with the myth and choices of form for each character. Nods to Hamilton are inevitable, but whether or not Lin-Manuel Miranda had anything to do with inspiring what we hope will be a trend of transforming old stories into hip-hop gold, all readers and educators can say at this point is keep ’em coming.” —Bulletin, starred review 


    ? "Elliott's absolutely magnetic rhythms will wake up any high school class, and the book could also work as a play. Irresistible, slick, and sharp (no bull!)—with plenty of bull to dissect." —Kirkus, starred review 


    ? "This striking reexamination of the Greek myth Theseus and the Minotaur [is] a conceit that easily could have floundered; in Elliott’s capable hands, it soars."  

    — Booklist, starred review 


    "Elliott’s contemporary take on the classic myth incorporates modern slang, profanity, and a bawdy sense of humor into an accessible, highly entertaining, and original novel... Recommended for most large collections, particularly those in need of engaging interpretations of classic myths." —School Library Journal 


    "It's rude, it's crude, and it's a whole bunch of fun."—BookPage 


    “David Elliott’s Bull does for mythology what Lin-Manuel Miranda‘s Hamilton has done for U.S. history. Teens of all genders and reading levels will devour this salty, quick-witted retelling and the timely truth of this story: It takes a god to make a boy into a beast, but it is us humans who turn him into a monster. I loved this book.” —Allan Wolf, author of The Watch That Ends the Night and New Found Land 


    “Stunning, explosive, and brilliantly-crafted. BULL is a perfect addition to the new canon of classics.” —Liz Wright, Brazo Books 


    “Dark, disturbing, and devastatingly good.” —Elana K. Arnold, author of Infandous and Sacred 


    “What an extraordinary book! Saucy and thoroughly modern, Bull feels both ageless and of our time, and is, above all, a bracing, unforgettable read.” —Jane Brox, author of Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light 


    “The voices in this poem—as much hip hop as epic—taunt in a spirit that is at once modern ghetto and ancient philosopher. As a lover of the Greek tales, I'm so grateful for this dizzying ride.” —Donna Jo Napoli, author of Sirena, Bound, and Beast 


    "Irreverent and witty, the book is a fantastic labyrinth of its own, with new turns and twists that deliver us to the wisdom at its center." —Kyoko Mori, author of One Bird and Shizuko’s Daughter 


    “A remix told in striking and affecting verse, BULL offers a modern, haunting look at this story of power, lust, love, and revenge” —Sara Grochowski, Brilliant Books 


    “An entirely refreshing twist on the indelicate undercurrents of Greek Mythology, BULL will inspire today’s readers to rediscover the classics.” —Sara Hines, Eight Cousins Books

  • excerpts


    There beneath the palace walls 

    the monster rages, foams, bawls, 

    calling out again and again, 



    No other sound 

    but the scrape 

    of horn 

    on stone, 

    the grinding cranch of human bone 

    under callused human foot.

    BOOK I


    Whaddup, bitches?

    Am I right or am I right? 

    That bum Minos deserved what he got. 

    I mean, I may be a god, but I’m not 

    Unreasonable, and when I am, so 


    Like I said, 

    I’m a god. 

    Reason’s got nuthin’ 

    To do with it.

    But let’s get back to where it all started: 

    Minos comes to me, 

    Mewling like a baby, 

    Frowny-faced, heavy-hearted. 

    He’s got a hunger, he says, 

    A hankering, a jones, a thing. 

    But not for a woman! 

    This jerk wants to be king! 

    Of CRETE! 

    An island so dazzling 

    It could cure the friggin’ 

    Blind. But it’s not the friggin’ 

    Scenery this friggin’ 

    Minos has in mind.

    Not the harbors or the shores, 

    The god-possessed waters. 

    Not the sheep, the trusty shepherds, 

    Their warlike sons, their lusty daughters. 

    Not the olives or the figs, 

    The sacred, long-lived trees. 

    Not the amber honey 

    Or the honey-making bees. 

    Not the thyme-drunk lovers 

    Who sigh among its flowers.


    All this clown wants 

    Is a little power. 

    He’s got an appetite for obedience, 

    But no imagination. 

    And he doesn’t ask for much—? 

    Just his own private nation.

    So he wonders 

    If I’d give the people 

    An omen, 

    A sign, 

    Something impressive, 

    He says, something divine. 

    Anything to prove 

    He’s the man 

    For the royal job.

    So what the fuck, I think. 

    I’m gonna help this slob.

    Why not? 

    I got plenty o’ nifty tricks 

    Up this metaphorical sleeve. 

    And you mortals? 

    You’re ready to believe 

    Anything to prove 

    A god’s on your side. 

    Besides, I got no dog in this fight. 

    No skin off my hide. 

    So, I wave my trusty trident; 

    Ain’t nuthin’ for me. 

    And abra-cadabra!

    A milk-white bull 

    Comes walking 

    Out of the wine-dark sea.

    The oldest trick in the book! 

    A piece o’ cake. 

    But it doesn’t take 

    Much to bring you 

    Mortals to your knees.

    Yeah, you’re hard to respect 

    But easy to please.

    So Minos gets it all—? 

    The palace, the power. 

    Big Man on Knossos. 

    Man of the Hour.

    But all of a sudden, 

    He won’t play nice.


    He was supposed to sacrifice 

    That bull 

    To me! 

    Poseidon, baby! 

    King of the Sea! 

    Tamer of Horses! 

    Old Earth-Shaker! 

    And one helluva troublemaker 

    When some jerk shirks 

    His responsibility and 

    Won’t keep his word.

    So this Minos, 

    This “king,” 

    This two-faced 


    Hid my bull and 

    Sacrificed another. 

    Like I’m some kind of mark! 

    A pigeon! 

    His younger brother! 

    A harebrain! 

    An idiot! 

    A jamook! 

    A snot-nosed kid!

    The guy’s all ego.


    I could have turned his eyes 

    Into a nest for seething wasps. 

    I could have turned his face 

    Into a snapping clam. 

    I could have given him hooves 

    Or studded the roof 

    Of his mouth with thorns. 

    Could have fitted him with horns. 




    Made him smell like an outhouse. 

    Covered him with zits. 

    Turned his arms into eels. 

    His teeth into snails. 

    Bleat like a sea cow. 

    Blow like a whale. 




    A snout! 

    Turned his 




    I could have. 

    But I didn’t.

    Parlor games. 

    A touch too mild. 

    Child’s play. 

    And Poseidon’s no child.

    He needed something 

    He’d remember 

    His whole stinkin’ life. 

    That’s why I bypassed him . . .

    And went after his wife.

    When you play with the gods, 

    You’re playing fast and loose. 

    Enough small talk—? 

    I’ve got a sea nymph to seduce.

Available Resources

Related Categories

  • Format: Paperback

  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9781328596338

  • ISBN-10: 1328596338

  • Pages: 224

  • Price: $9.99

  • Publication Date: 03/26/2019

  • Carton Quantity: 24

  • Age(s): 14,15,16

  • Grade(s): 9-12

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