Retired Librarian and Grandson Start Book Review Column: Up First, Percy Jackson & The Olympians

An Introduction and Book Review by Mr. E and Bubbie

ALEXANDRIA, VA – A retired librarian and currently practicing bibliophile under the alias of “Bubbie,” (which is Yiddish for “Grandma,”) has started writing book reviews with her grandson. The grandson, writing under the alias of “Mr. E.”,  and his Bubbie write their reviews to offer opinions from the perspective of both a grade schooler and an adult that is engaged and interested in the content that their child, or grandchild, etc…is reading.

Bubbie and Mr. E reading Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes By Rick Riordan (Photo Courtesy of Bubbie and Mr. E)

Hi, adult readers! My name is Bubbie  and I have a confession to make: I am a retired librarian and a practicing bibliophile! Luckily, my grade school age grandson is the proverbial “chip off the old block”. Together we do a lot of read alouds, but we find commercial reviews of books do not always match our thoughts. So, I plan to write book reviews from the point of view of the adult looking for books for grade school age children.

Bubbie rating symbols are 👍👌👎

Hi, kid readers! My Name is Mr. E (AKA Mystery – get it?) I am in grade school, and I like to read, play baseball and I like math. I read a lot of books on my own and with Bubbie. I thought I could share my opinions with you to make sure you don’t miss good books and do miss bad ones. 

Mr. E’s rating symbols are 😍🙄🤢

Facts about the book series Percy Jackson & the Olympians by Rick Riordan. 

  • There are 5 books in the series: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian. 
  • The series follows the adventures of “half-blood” Percy Jackson from ages 12- almost 16. 
  • Half-blood means Percy has one human parent and one Greek god parent. 
  • According to the old Greek myths the gods often came to earth (in Greece) disguised as humans and interacted with humans in good or bad ways. 
  • According to the Percy Jackson series, the Greek gods still exist and still come to earth; however, their earthly landings now take place in the USA. 
  • Percy’s mother falls in love in just such a situation. 
  • In Book 1 of the series, 12 –year- old Percy discovers his parentage and his heritage and attempts his first quest.
  •  In Books 2-5 Percy participates in additional heroic quests that require him to travel around the USA and travel to ancient mythological places- based on the enigmatic predictions of an ancient oracle. 
  • With the help or hinderance of a cast of humans, other half-bloods, mythological creatures, and Greek gods, Percy experiences the associated joys, sadness, dangers, disasters and triumphs.

BOOK-O-METER OVERALL RATING

If you are between the ages of 8 and 71, Bubbie and Mr. E advise you to read this series! 

  • Bubbie 👍 Specialists in the field of teaching written expression often exhort writers to “use striking language with strong descriptive powers, exact language with precise and accurate words, natural language that sounds authentic to time period and place, and beautiful language with use of colorful words and phrases” (6+ 1 Traits of Writing). Rick Riordan, the author of this book series, successfully uses all of these writing traits in every book in the series! Reading this series is fun, exciting, and entertaining for an adult, 
  • Mr. E 😍/🙄 I rate this series A- for kids. It gets an A for the stories because there are so many funny parts and really good jokes. It gets the minus for a few “long-shot” ideas that only kind of make sense, but that we had to stick with. After Bubbie and I finished reading the series out loud, I re-read the series on my own. I liked it both ways. 

 

BOOK-O-METER THEME RATING 

  • Bubbie 👍 The theme of this series centers around heroism – how does a true hero act? Percy is the epitome of a true hero. He has personal faults, he gets scared, he makes mistakes, but he is always true to his family and friends, true to his word, brave, and clever. To me, Percy’s mother is another true hero for her unselfish behavior. She willingly places herself into personally uncomfortable, difficult, and dangerous situations with just one thought in mind: how best to keep Percy safe. Several of Percy’s fellow “half-bloods” first appear to be heroes but later reveal dark sides that, in my opinion, prove their heroic claims to be fraudulent. The Greek gods consider themselves to be regal heroes, but they often act in nasty and selfish ways.
  •  Mr. E 😍 This series is really about what it would be like if all the old Greek myths were true stories. It shows us what it would be like for the Greek gods interfering in human life, in modern times.

BOOK-O-METER STORYLINE RATING

  • Bubbie  👌 The fully storyline is built around memorable situations with tension, humor, pathos, and action sprinkled throughout. The story continuity between and among the 5 books is definitely a strength. Characters and storylines come and go as needed, but there are no “dead drops”; each character and each situation is given a full accounting at just the right time. However, in The Battle of the Labyrinth I thought some of the action was repetitive to the point of boring, and in The Last Olympian I thought some of the tension was stretched too long and some of the action was too “dark”.
  • Mr. E  😍 All the stories are good, but my favorite stories are in The Lightening Thief and The Battle of the Labyrinth. I like Battle of the Labyrinth because I like the idea that the labyrinth got so big that it was under all of the world. I like The Lightening Thief because I thought it was a really good start to the series with some things that are funny, some that are scary, and some things are exciting. 

 

BOOK-O-METER CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT RATING FOR THE SERIES:

  • Bubbie 👍 Every character in this series completely comes alive, even the minor characters! I absolutely feel their joys and pains as I read about their backgrounds and lives. One minor character (Smelly Gabe) is a terrible person but is so well drawn he actually becomes one of the most memorable and funniest characters in the series.
  • Mr. E 😍 In book 1 my favorite character is Percy Jackson because, even though everyone blames him for stealing something important, he didn’t steal it. And, he doesn’t ask for a reward for his good deed when he finds it and returns it. In book 2 my favorite character is Percy Jackson because when he meets his half-brother he doesn’t pretend he isn’t his brother (even though the half-brother is strange.). In book 3 my favorite character is Percy Jackson because he seems like a real person and is really funny (especially at Hoover Dam). In book 4 my favorite character is Mrs. Oleary because I like that she is a tamed hellhound and not a terrible monster like the rest of the hellhounds. In book 5 my favorite character is Luke because at the end he acts heroically. 

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