The myths of ancient Greece and Rome receive a modern-world twist in these books for readers in the older elementary and middle grade readers. Action, suspense, and humor will entice children to learn about the gods and goddesses of the past.
“Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods” by Rich Riordan, Illustrated by John Rocco, 2014, Hyperion Books, ages 9-14, 336 pages.
Percy Jackson is a demi-god, half human and half god, the son of a mortal woman and Poseidon. For a decade fans have enjoyed stories of Percy’s quests to fight evil and his loyal friendships with humans and gods alike. In “Greek Gods” Percy switches roles and becomes narrator to the classic stories of Greek gods, using both sarcasm and humor to bring these ancient villains and heroes to life. Dramatic illustrations add details to the tales, but Percy’s mash-up commentary of ancient and modern elements will keep novice and tried and true fans entertained for hours.
“The Eternal City” by Paula Morris, 2015, Scholastic, ages 11 and up, 304 pages.
On a school trip to Rome, Laura discovers that the myths of this ancient city are still alive. Laura and her friends seem to invite disasters and adventure in the form of earthquakes, volcanoes, and battles between forces of good and evil. Sightings of Mercury as a human boy with tiny wings on his shoes and glimpses of ancient stone fountain animals that seem to come alive are startling at first, but become common-place during this myth-based adventure that joins present-day with ancient times. Adolescent readers will find the story to be one of action without excessive romance or violence.
“The Demigod Diaries” by Rick Riordan, 2012, Disney Hyperion, ages 10-14, 242 pages.
This collection of short stories features characters from the popular Percy Jackson series. Loyal fans and those new to Riordan’s spirited versions of the Greek and Roman myths will be come to see favorite characters, Percy, Luke, Thalia, Annabeth, and others as companions on this mythical journey. By combining adventure and subtle humor, these versions of myths raise the interest of readers and may prompt the reading of more scholarly books about these ancient stories.
“Pegasus: Origins of Olympus” by Kate O’Hearn, 2014, Aladdin, ages 9-12, 418 pages.
The fate of Olympus lies in the abilities of a young girl, Emily, to traverse the present and the past and bring peace to between the Olympians and the Titans. When her beloved friend and supporter Pegasus becomes ill, like so many of the Olympians, Emily straddles the world between mortals and Greek gods to save the land, the friends, and the family that she loves. Fourth in the Pegasus series, the “Origins of Olympus”, and Emily as a heroin will be a favorite of those who enjoy Greek mythology and a story of adventure and hope.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler