Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Lightning Thief

1. Bibliography: Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. New York: Miramax Books, 2005.

2. Genre and Awards:
Young Adult/Fantasy/Mythology

3. Synopsis:

Percy Jackson (Percival, hmmm) is a misfit. He keeps getting kicked out of schools, and weird things keep happening to him. In fact, he winds up at “Half-blood camp” for the summer where he manages to make some pretty important Greek gods pretty unhappy. In this novel, Percy works on discovering who he is while engaging in a quest of mythic (literally) proportions.

4. Characters:

Along with a host of highly entertaining cameos by many Greek gods and mythological creatures; Percy Jackson is the main character. He is raised by his mom, because his dad is mysteriously absent??? His best friend, Grover, is always wearing a Rasta hat for some reason, and his favorite teacher teaches him all about Greek mythology, and seems to be the only person who really believes that Percy has the capacity to learn it. As the book progresses, my favorite character, Annabeth, daughter of Athena is the girl who travels with Percy on his adventures.

5. Plot:
Percy discovers he is the son of a Greek god. In his journey to find himself and make peace with the gods, he has many hilarious encounters with other mythological beasts. This book is packed with action, and yet it is really relatable. I don’t want to give to much plot away, because much of the this book is in uncovering the plot twists as Percy learns not only who he is, but what he can do.

6. Needs of adolescents:
The Lightning Thief is a great book for middle and junior high students. Boys will love the action and love Percy, but girls will really enjoy Annabeth and the strong portrayal of female characters. This book deals with a single-parent household and many perilous situations that Percy and his friends encounter. It shows in a fantastical way how kids deal with bullying and being an outcast.

7. Possible Classroom Uses:

The Lightning Thief would be an excellent read aloud or small group book as well as a great book for an individual. Of course, it is not on the AR list (wink/wink). This book would be a great introduction to Greek mythology, the Iliad or The Odyssey. It would also be great as an introduction into creative writing.

8. Appropriate Age Range

The Lightning Thief is written for 7-10 graders.

9. Personal Reactions
Holy moly, my boys and I loved this one! It is so exciting and there is so much action, I couldn’t put it down. It is also really funny. If you want to get a 13-year old boy talking, give him this book. Every person I know that has read this that is under the age of 30 wants to talk about it, and everyone has a favorite part. I think it is a great bridge to many classics, and kids won’t even know what they are getting into. Rick Riordan has started something new and exciting, inviting in classic literature in a way that is relatable, entertaining and engaging.


Tara said...

I think this would be one of those books that was not really "my kind" of book, but everything you have said about it makes me want to read it for the sake of the classroom. I need a few on file to get me in with the boys! I love all the connections to mythology and I think this book could be a great way to make that whole area accessible to students a lot earlier than it might be otherwise. I remember learning about the Greeks and Romans in 7th and 8th grade and it bombing, because we were not ready for it. I also see some real connections to the Harry Potter books here in the world of mysterious parents leaving behind a hard-to-deal-with legacy that has to be uncovered and then, well, dealt with. This could be an awesome introduction to those books, too, since it's significantly shorter and maybe easier for reluctant readers to pick up.

Elizabeth said...

This really sounds like an interesting book--I think I might have to check it out after all of this other reading is done. Personally, I really love Greek mythology; I think it is an area that a lot of kids get into...but not enough to read Ovid. This would be a great way to understand the pantheon in a new and fun context. The whole idea just seems really original and fun. I'm glad you mentioned that malefolk would enjoy it. I have no idea what adolescent boys are into, so thanks for that insight. How could you not like a kid named Percy? Even if it's not on the list or able to make it into the classroom, this sounds like a good one to reccommend for fun/building skills.

Thanks for your comment--I'm liking your format better than mine. I might have to go back and reorganize my rambling. Happy reading!

stephstidham said...

I recommended this book to a friend of mine who has a struggling 7th grader with ADD. She said he had already read it, and it was the only book he had really latched onto. Apparently this is a series? She said Trystan had exactly the same reaction with wanting to learn more about Greek Mythology.
I think I'll have to check this book out...I have two personal stories...one a boy who loves to read, and one a boy who doesn't...that both fell in love with "The Lightning Thief." Sounds pretty hard to beat. What a great intro to teaching mythology (which I loved!) Thanks for your great comments, and of course, your wealth of knowledge on what kids are actually reading.

Miss Martha said...

Once again, your enthusiasm about a book has me logging on to Amazon to order something (!) Your insightful comments about the book and ideas for real world applications in/out of the classroom make this one sound like a treasure for boys, especially. I find myself coming up with all kinds of ideas for connections to Mythology (which was one of my favorite subject areas in school) and History. Wouldn't it be fun to have students write their own "myth" with themselves featured as a God or Goddess, having a "power" that was an exaggeration of one of their strengths? And an "Achilles Heel" that was an exaggeration of a weakness they needed to address? So many ideas, so little time. Thanks again, Katy!

Stephanie Pierce said...

Believe it or not, my mom has been trying to get me to read this ever since it came out. I guess all you YA reading moms are on a listserve or something... Anyway, I'm going to have to borrow this from her; kind of like how I borrowed Twilight (which hasn't found its way back home). Thanks for the informative review. I really look forward to reading it.