What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is violence here, but very mild compared to many fantasies for this age: wounded heroes are magically cured, and monsters are killed, vanishing in a puff of smoke, but can reappear later.
What's the story?
Percy Jackson, son of a mortal mother and the Greek god Poseidon, returns to Camp Half-Blood, only to find it beset by monsters. The camp's protections are breaking down -- someone has poisoned Thalia's tree, which guards the camp, and Chiron has been fired, replaced by the evil Tantalus, who has been let out of Hades. Meanwhile, Percy has been having dreams about his friend Grover, who is held captive by a cyclops. It seems that only the Golden Fleece can save the camp, but it is guarded by the same cyclops that has Grover, and Clarisse, not Percy, has been given the quest to get it.
Is it any good?
The Percy Jackson series continues to be pure fun, with the author doing nearly everything right to produce a book that few kids will be able to resist. At the most basic level, he keeps the action percolating, the pacing flawless, and manages to give the reader the impression of a violent action-adventure without a lot of the kind of violence that worries parents. There's no swearing or drinking or sex, yet Percy's slightly sardonic voice makes it totally cool. Unlike far too many fantasies these days, it's not overlong, which means it doesn't sag in the middle, and it won't intimidate less avid readers.
But because of its roots in Greek myth, even the more avid readers will find plenty to chew on. The book is filled with clever references to major and minor Greek characters, stories, and monsters, all updated in often hilarious ways for the 21st century. For kids who know their way around D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths, half the fun is making the connections. Who are those three crazy ladies driving the taxicab out to the camp? Perhaps their squabbling over an eyeball is a hint, not only to who they are, but to what story is about to be reenacted. Great fun for everyone.
From the Book:
I couldn't see what was chasing him, but I could hear it muttering and cursing. The ground shook as it got closer. Grover dashed around a street corner and faltered. He'd run into a dead-end courtyard full of shops. No time to back up. The nearest door had been blown open by the storm. The sign above the darkened display window read: ST. AUGUSTINE BRIDAL BOUTIQUE.
Grover dashed inside. He dove behind a rack of wedding dresses.
The monster's shadow passed in front of the shop. I could smell the thing—a sickening combination of wet sheep wool and rotten meat and that weird sour body odor only monsters have, like a skunk that's been living off Mexican food.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the many Greek myths referenced. How many can you find? What are the original stories? How have they been updated for modern times?
Children might be interested in writing their own modern updates on classic myths.