A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fifth installment of the Goddess Girls series stars Athena, a teenage goddess at the Mount Olympus Academy. This book will certainly introduce readers to names like Zeus, Athena, Heracles, and more -- as well as some Greek myth. Readers already familiar with some of the habits of the gods will get more out of jokes, like the yambrosia stew the students eat -- or the name of their one-eyed Hero-ology teacher: Mr. Cyclops. There is a bit of low-level fantasy violence; Heracles is never without his club. He uses it to knock the heads of a Hydra (causing it to sprout more), may have used to it to kill a few "death-dealing birds of prey" -- and later threatens Hades with it. And there is a bit of flirting between the gods and goddesses -- Heracles even tries to kiss Athena. But Athena is a good role model who thinks a lot about revenge and forgiveness in this book -- including how she should act when only her pride is wounded.
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What's the story?
When Heracles transfers to Mouth Olympus Academy, Principal Zeus asks his straight-A daughter Athena to befriend the "hotheaded" mortal during a trial period at the school. But then Athena learns Heracles needs to complete 12 tasks in order to get a permanent place at the school -- and Athena soon finds herself helping him fight a many-headed hydra and clean out King Augeas's poop-filled stable. How much will Athena risk for the new heartthrob student -- especially when she has her own problems to deal with, including a rude mortal who challenges her to a weaving contest.
Is it any good?
This fun, lively book will resonate best with readers already somewhat familiar with the Greek gods and some of their myths. Knowing something about Athena, Heracles, and the 12 labors will make the story easier to follow -- and will make it easier to get some of the book's jokes (the students at Mount Olympus Academy eat yambrosia stew and have a one-eyed Hero-ology teacher named Mr. Cyclops, for example). Even so, even readers new to Greek mythology will get quite an education in this clever update -- though they may get a bit bored as Heracles works through his many tasks. Kids will find a spirited, strong heroine in Athena -- and a surprisingly thoughtful message as she struggles with revenge and forgiveness. In the end, this series has a clever premise and provides a good mix of educational and entertaining elements.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Greek myths. How much did you know about Zeus, Athena, or Heracles before you read this book? Parents may want to encourage their kids to check out D'Aulaires' Book Of Greek Myths and compare it to the stories here. Why have these characters and stories endured?
This is the fifth installment in a series about the gods and goddesses at Mount Olympus Academy. What's fun about reading a series? Why would authors want to write a series -- or publishers want to publish one?
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