Heroes of Olympus – The Son of Neptune (Rick Riordan)

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure about this one when I started it. It doesn’t work as a standalone book as the beginning makes no sense unless you have already read The Lost Hero. However, if you have read The Lost Hero first, then there is no suspense about why Percy Jackson has lost his memory or whether he will regain it.
In fact a second book in a row where the hero has amnesia is tedious in places. Camp Jupiter is also less welcoming than camp Half-blood, which makes it harder for the reader to invest in the characters. I can’t help but feel that the first two books in this series would have been better had the events happened simultaneously so that they could have been entwined in one book.
Fortunately, Frank and Hazel from this book are strong enough to win the reader over, and the second half of the book is enjoyable. There are also enough teasers at the end to promise that the third book, The Mark of Athena, will be a good one.

Percy Jackson – The Lost Hero

Rick Riordan was recommended to me by a Year 6 boy that I was tutoring, and as he had tried several authors I had suggested to him, I thought I should give his recommendation a go. I’m glad I did. I read the whole of the first series in one go.

It’s taken me a while to get round to series two – partly because I was worried that the new trio of characters wouldn’t be as good. I didn’t need to worry – Jason, Piper and Leo are just as heroic as Percy, Annabeth and Grover. With different godly parents, they have a whole new set of gifts to get them out of fixes.

Since Jason is slightly older than Percy was in the previous series, the book will probably appeal to older children – certainly to upper KS3 and possibly even into KS4. It hasn’t lost any of the appeal for younger readers though, and the sporadic appearances of Annabeth provide a satisfying bridge between the two series.

The monsters in this book are badder than ever – and with a new all-powerful villain as their new mistress, they are harder to kill.

A must read for any child (or adult) who likes their adventures with a classical twist.

R is for…

R is for…Reading. The more you read the more ideas you will have for your own writing. There are so many different sorts of books around, you are sure to find something you like. Ask your friends what sort of books they enjoy and see if they can recommend some.

Most children like Harry Potter, but if you find them a bit difficult to read you might like to try Charlie Bone instead. He is another boy who goes to wizard school. If you enjoyed learning about ancient Greece in your topic lessons, you might enjoy Percy Jackson. Lots of girls like the Rainbow Fairies, the Magic Ponies and books by Jaqueline Wilson.

If you’re not very keen on fiction books, you could try some of the My Story books. Although they are not completely true stories, they have an element of truth in them, so you will learn a lot about different periods in history.

Why not pop down to your local library and talk to the children’s librarian? If you tell them what sort of things interest you, they will help you find the perfect book for you.

Related post: Q is for…     S is for…

Summer Reading

It’s the summer holidays. Hopefully everyone is enjoying the time off, but if you or your young ones are getting bored, why not have a look at these books?

For KS1: Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat by Ursula Williams. This is an old book now – I remember reading it when I was a child myself – but it’s still just as appealing now as it was then. You can’t help but feel sorry for poor Gobbolino who really doesn’t want to be a witch’s cat. The story tells of his adventures as he searches for a home where he can be just a normal cat.

KS2: Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Poor Percy Jackson doesn’t realise that he’s a demi-god until one of his teachers tries to kill him. After that his life gets seriously turned upside-down when he discovers that his best friend is a satyr and that the god of war really has it in for him If, like me, you have an interest in Greek mythology these books are even more special, but even if you’ve never been a fan of classical history the Percy Jackson series is a great read that will appeal to boys and girls alike. Start with Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and just keep going! I’ve finished this series, but on my summer reading list I have the second series: The Heroes of Olympus.

KS3: The Everlost Trilogy by Neal Shusterman. What happens when you die if you don’t end up where you are supposed to be? You end up in Everlost, and the only ways to avoid sinking into the centre of the earth are to keep moving or to find a ‘dead spot’ (a place where somebody else has died) to stand on. Everlost is divided into those who want to help the lost souls find their way to where they should be, and those who want to stop them. With a cast including pirates, ogres and people who can take over the bodies of the living, there is quite a battle. For younger readers it’s just a good read – for older readers it has quite an existential feel – Jean-Paul Sartre would have been proud!

KS4:Unwind (also by Neal Shusterman). This one covers some quite gritty issues. Imagine a world where it is illegal to terminate a pregnancy, but when your child reaches the age of 13 you can change your mind. If you decide that having your child was a mistake you can apply to have them ‘unwound’, which involves every single part of their body being used in transplants to save other people’s lives. How would you feel if you had grown up believing your family loved you until the day the authorities come to unwind you? How would you feel if you had grown up in a family that believe in donating 10% of their possessions to charity, and you are their 10th child? This book follows the lives of some children who are on the run to save their lives. To escape the ‘unwind order’, they must stay alive until they are 18.

Young Adults: There probably aren’t many people who haven’t already read Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Trilogy, but if you are one of them – what are you waiting for? It’s set in the future after there has been some sort of uprising, and the divide between the rich and the poor is very clearly defined. As a punishment for the uprising, the various districts are forced to enter two of their young people, one boy and one girl, into a contest where they have to fight to the death in the name of entertainment. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark may be teenagers, but the action is tense and fast-paced enough to keep adults turning the pages as well. I have heard a few critics say that this book is just a rehash of Stephen King’s The Running Man, but to me this seems a bit harsh. It is true that The Running Man was probably more visionary at the time, because reality TV wasn’t the bulk of entertainment in those days, but The Hunger Games is more than just reality TV taken to extremes – especially as the plot unfolds further in the second and final books.

These are my recommendations for summer reading. What are yours? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.