Posted in Fiction, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade, mythology, Tween Reads

The story of Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt

artemis_1Artemis, by George O’Connor, (Olympians #9), (Jan. 2017, First Second), $9.99, ISBN: 9781626725225

Recommended for ages 8-12

The latest in George O’Connor’s graphic novel series on the Olympians gives readers the origin of Artemis, goddess of the hunt, nature, archery, wild animals, young women, and sudden death (yes, you read that right). Like a lot of gods and goddesses, Artemis and her twin brother, Apollo, were born when Zeus introduced himself to Leto, daughter of the Titans Coeus and Phoebe. Artemis assisted with her brother’s birth, despite being only 9 days old, and when the family was invited to live on Mount Olympus, was protective of her mother, who, for obvious reasons, wasn’t really in Hera’s favor.

 

I love this series because it really utilizes the graphic novel format to bring these myths back to life. When I was a kid, I had history and mythological comics that breathed life into their stories, splashing the pages with the color and action that infused them. O’Connor’s Olympians series is good, solid story-telling that brings mythology back to kids and adults alike. Put these books out with your Rick Riordan books; your Greek mythology nonfiction books (D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths is brilliant and often used in schools), and, for readers who are ready for them, Gillian Cross and Neil Packer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

artemis_2

 

 

 

Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, mythology, Tween Reads

Book Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan (Miramax, 2005)

Recommended for ages 10-13

The first book in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series, The Lightning Thief introduces readers to Percy Jackson, demigod son of Poseidon, and his friends at Camp Half-Blood.

Percy, a sixth grader who’s been kicked out of several schools, suffers from dyslexia and ADHD; he’s never met his real father; and his mother, whom he adores, is married to a jerk who verbally abuses Percy and his mother. When monsters start coming after Percy and he discovers that his best friend isn’t exactly what he seems, his mother helps him escape to Camp Half-Blood in Long Island, where he finds out the missing information about his past and a great deal more. The Greek gods exist, and they have a lot of children populating the earth; Camp Half-Blood is a safe haven for them. Because he is the son Poseidon, of one of the “Big Three” – Zeus, Poseidon and Hades – he is hunted even more than the children of the other gods and goddess. He also learns that someone has stolen Zeus’ master lightning bolt and Zeus think it’s him.

 Charged with finding the bolt and returning it to Mount Olympus in just 10 days, Percy heads out on his quest with his best friend, the faun Grover and Annabeth, daughter of Athena. Getting the lightning bolt back is just part of the puzzle: Percy must also learn who was really behind the theft, and in doing so, will uncover a plot to bring down Mount Olympus.
 
The Percy Jackson series was hugely popular with middle grade readers with good reason: it’s a well-written, exciting series with plenty of monsters, mythology and quests to keep boys and girls alike turning pages. There are well-fleshed, strong male and female characters alike throughout the series and familiar monsters like Medusa and the minotaur make appearances throughout. Bringing mythology to life is a great way to make these stories accessible to a new generation, and giving these demigods learning disabilities like ADHD and dyslexia makes them relatable to a wider audience of readers who may be coping with these issues and rarely get to read about characters who also deal with them.
 
The Lightning Thief is the first of five books in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. Riordan’s newest series, The Heroes of Olympus, follows new heroes from Camp Half-Blood but has references to the original Percy Jackson characters.
 
The Lightning Thief received several honors, including designations as a New York Times Notable Book of 2005, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and VOYA Top Shelf Fiction List for 2005. It was made into a movie in 2010. The author’s website offers information about all of his books, a link to his blog, and extras including a map of the Underworld and a Greek mythology guide. A Camp Half-Blood wikia offers exhaustive information created by Mr. Riordan’s fan community on all of his books, his characters, and the mythology that breathes life into his series.
Posted in Adventure, Fantasy, Middle School, mythology, Tween Reads

Pandora Gets Jealous, by Carolyn Hennesy (Bloomsbury, 2008)

Recommended for ages 10-13

Get ready for Mean Girls meets Clash of the Titans.

Pandora – Pandy to her friends – has no idea what to bring to school for her project on the gods’ presence in their lives. If she brings the piece of her dad, Atlas’, liver again, she’s totally going to fail. When she stumbles across a locked box hidden away, she knows she should not bring it. Her dad told her that she should never open it. But it would be perfect. When the mean girls at school tease her and tell her that the box is worthless, it somehow ends up being opened, and the seven evils escape into the world, and poor Hope ends up being locked in the box.

Zeus and Hera charge Pandora with tracking down and recapturing all of the evils she released in six phases of the moon, or else. Pandy sets off with her two best friends, Alcie and Iole, and a little stealth help from Olympus. Her first stop: Delphi, to recapture Envy.

Pandora Gets Jealous is the first in Ms. Hennesy’s Pandora series; each book features the evil that she and her friends must recapture. Aimed at girls, the writing starts off light, with Pandora appearing almost vapid, but the story becomes intense very quickly. The solid mythology in the book is a great way to bring these stories to a younger, female audience that may still see Greek mythology as something geared toward boys despite there being gods AND goddesses on Olympus. Like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Ms. Hennesy makes Greek mythology contemporary for a new audience.

The author, actress Carolyn Hennesy, has a Pandora-focused website with a wealth of additional content on the series including teachers’ guides, book synopses, and a discussion forum.