A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes is a hefty gift-size volume that profiles 12 heroes, as narrated by Percy Jackson from the bestselling series. It helps a little to read the Percy Jackson books first and the companion gift-size book Percy Jackson's Greek Gods. If they do so, readers will instantly connect with the narrator and get his sometimes sardonic, sometimes goofy sense of humor. As in Greek Gods, Percy's wit helps smooth things over when the content gets mature. These heroes are not flawless mortals -- far from it. The body count is high. The worst of it includes killing one's own family (Medea kills her sons to punish Jason, Theseus kills his son out of jealously, Hercules takes out his family in a sudden rage more than once). Heads (Medusa's and others') and body parts are hacked off on about five occasions. (Worst: Daughters are tricked into hacking up their father.) Many are killed in battle, and there's talk of babies left in the woods to die (although a she-bear found baby Atalanta and raised her). There's plenty of talk of gods and mortals having affairs without much detail and a big "gross-out" alert from Percy about Pasiphae's affair with a bull (Aphrodite tricked her into it). The Amazons "got chummy with" Gargareans at a "sleepover party" once a year and had babies nine months later. There's some drunkenness that often leads to fighting and killing with later regret. Kudos to author Riordan for the extra effort to include four female heroes in the dozen, while pointing out that at the time they didn't get their due. Parents should definitely read along with kids for a great refresher on all these legendary characters. You can talk about the hard lessons the heroes learn along the way, as well as each hero's fatal flaw and how it often leads to his or her undoing.
- Parents say
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What's the story?
Demigod Percy Jackson offers up the stories of 12 heroes: Perseus, Psyche, Phaethon, Otrera, Daedalus, Theseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, Cyrene, Orpheus, Hercules, and Jason. He relays the deeds these characters are still famous for today -- slaying the Minotaur, playing a mean lyre, founding the Amazons, retrieving the Golden Fleece, and more -- and, in equal measure, shows where they went wrong. Or, as Percy puts it in the introduction, how they "boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before." Most stories in PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK HEROES end in tragedy, but not all do. At the end of Psyche's story, Percy marvels at the happy ending but promises the next hero he talks about -- Phaethon -- is a "total car wreck of a demigod."
Is it any good?
If it's possible, this giant, brilliantly illustrated volume is even more absorbing than Percy's take on Greek gods. As in Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, we get the warts-and-all portraits, and there are plenty of warts. Who recalled Hercules had such an anger-management problem? Or that the brilliant inventor Daedalus had such a horrible jealous streak? Author Rick Riordan takes pains to include some fascinating women in the mix -- no doubt they were harder to research than the men, and the extra effort is appreciated. Atalanta and Otrera are especially fascinating as extreme Wonder Women whom no man dared mess with.
Two maps help orient the reader quite well in ancient times. And Percy's modern sardonic-teen voice keeps readers laughing and the pages turning, especially when the character names get unpronounceable and the subject matter gets either too gross or too grim. This is a great book for parents to enjoy right along with kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fatal flaws. What are they? How do they lead to some heroes' undoing?
Were you surprised that characters called heroes could have such dark pasts? What makes someone a hero? (Percy asks if the character Daedalus is a hero. What do you think?)
Phineas, a gifted seer, was punished by Zeus for telling people their entire fates. Do you think Zeus was right? Would you like to know everything that's going to happen to you? How is this dangerous?
- Author: Rick Riordan
- Illustrator: John Rocco
- Genre: Folklore
- Topics: Superheroes, Adventures, History, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Ocean Creatures, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: August 18, 2015
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 416
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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