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December 19, 2010

The Lightning Thief

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The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series #1) by Rick Riordan: Book Cover

The Lightning Thief

Author: Rick Riordan

Page Length: 375

Reading Level: 4th-6th

Genre: Fiction, Mythology

PLOT SUMMARY: Percy Jackson is a troubled kid with ADHD who has been bounced from one boarding school to another. He is the son of a mother who has been trapped in an abusive relationship for quite some time. In the beginning, the whereabouts of Percy’s real father are unknown.

When characters from Percy’s mythology textbook begin to literally leap out in front of him, Percy begins to question who he is. When he gets kicked out of his latest school, monsters chase after Percy in an attempt to kill him. Soon enough, Percy ends up at Camp Half-Blood where he learns that he himself is a “Half-Blood” (his mother is human and his father is the Greek god Poseidon). Percy also finds out that the lightning bolt of Zeus has been stolen and that he is the main suspect! At Camp Half-Blood, Percy trains for the eventual quest of finding Zeus’ missing lightning bolt and stopping an impending war between the Greek gods.

During his quest, Percy ventures to the Underworld to find out if Hades has stolen Zeus’ lightning bolt. After meeting with Hades, it is discovered that not only does Hades not have Zeus’ prized possession, Hades’ is missing his helm. Hades demands that Percy hand over the lightning bolt at once. When Percy opens his backpack to show Hades he does not have it, the lightning bolt magically appears in the bag! Immediately Percy escapes the enraged Hades committed to find the god’s helm and deliver both the helm and the lightning bolt to their rightful owners.

After Percy finds Hades’ helm, the god Ares turns up. Both begin to battle. It is discovered here that Ares, under the spell of Kronos, has plotted to start a war between the gods and has used Percy as the catalyst for the war. Ares, defeated by Percy for now, vanishes. Afterwards, Percy ensures the delivery of both the helm to Hades and the lightning bolt to Zeus.

In the end, Percy discovers that he has been betrayed by one of his friends at Camp Half-Blood, Luke, who has teamed up with Kronos to reek havoc on the gods. This realization is the catalyst for the next story in the Percy Jackson series.

REVIEW: After a few chapters I really got hooked on this story. I enjoyed how the author creatively blended elements of Greek mythology with a basic story line of a boy on an adventure to prove his father right. However, if one is not familiar with mythology, it would be beneficial to brush up on some of the basic points (ie. the names of the gods and their basic characteristics). This will help with the understanding of the story as a whole.

Some may find the topic of mythology boring, however this fictional story is a great way to “spice up” the study of the Greek gods. I found it interesting that non-mythological elements were infused in the story-line (e.g., Empire State Building, Santa Monica Pier, Shakespeare, George Washington, ADHD, etc.).

AREAS FOR TEACHING: mythology, humor, foreshadowing, setting

RELATED BOOKS: Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series (#1-5)

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” (pre-production – 2010)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.rickriordan.com/Teacher_Guide_to_Percy.htm

http://www.state.lib.la.us/empowerlibrary/LIGHTNING%20THIEF.pdf

http://writingfix.com/Chapter_Book_Prompts/Lightning_Thief3.htm

http://libraries.risd.org/wallib/LightningThief.htm

http://nene.k12.hi.us/winners/2008/LightningThief.html

http://teachers.greenville.k12.sc.us/sites/ahill/Pages/Websites%20for%20The%20Lightning%20Thief.aspx  

http://content.scholastic.com/browse/collateral.jsp?id=10864_type=Book_typeId=4674

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

August 23, 2008

Among the Betrayed

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Among the Betrayed

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix      

Page Length: 156

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY: Nina Idi wakes up in a jail cell and realizes she has been caught by the Population Police.  The “hating man” interrogates her as to her dealings, which may involve protecting other “third family children.”

Nina lives in a country where couples are allowed to have two children.  Nina, like many others, was the third of her family to be born.  She lived in hiding with her grandmother and aunties until she was sent to Harlow School for Girls.

At Harlow, she met Jason, who attended the neighboring boy’s school. She fell in love with Jason, and told him that she was a third child.  She doesn’t realize that Jason has also been arrested.  While in jail, Nina is placed in a cell with three younger children, also, third children.  The hating man tries to get Nina to betray the children and get information for him.  As the story evolves, Nina chooses not to betray the children, and they find a way to escape the jail. 

Nina and company make their way to the Boy’s school where she believes she can get help from Lee, one of the boy’s she knew through Jason.

REVIEW: This is the third book in Margaret Haddix’s Shadow Children sequence.  I have not read the previous two books, but was able to get interested in the story line immediately. 

The story is a captivating mystery that I didn’t solve until the very end of the book.  It is interesting in that the plot centers around a subject that in America we don’t consider an issue that could be a reality. 

Students who enjoy mystery would like this book.

AREAS FOR TEACHING:  Sequence, Characters, Compare/Contrast, Cause and Effect, Conclusions, Generalizations, and Predictions

RELATED BOOKS: Among the Hidden, Among the Imposters, Among the Barons

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: “The Village” (2004)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.english.unitecnology.ac.nz/readhot/book_review.php?book_id=418

www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-87148594.html

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Peterson_Haddix

www.buildingrainbows.com/bookreview/reviewid/18515

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

March 15, 2008

Among the Betrayed

Among the Betrayed

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Page Length: 156

Reading Level: 5/6

Genre: Science Fiction, Mystery, Suspense

 

REVIEW & PLOT SUMMARY: State Rights! Women Rights! Civil Rights! Well…now there is an idea called Third-Child Rights and only in the world of fiction (for now) in a book titled, Among the Betrayed (book three in a series). In this futuristic story, the government has established a policy in which parents may only have two children due to the shortage of food after recent draughts and famine.

 

Nina Idi, whose real name is Elodie Luria, is an illegal third-child (shadow child) who has been in hiding from the Population Police all her young life. After she falls for a boy named Jason she unknowingly becomes involved in his profitable plan to expose “exnays” – illegal shadow children trying to pass themselves off as legitimate citizens. However, the Population Police discover that Jason is turning in citizens that are legitimate! Subsequently, they arrest Jason and all those involved – including Nina.

 

The book begins its plot twist after the arrest. Working for the Population Police in the prison where Nina is held is a double agent. The double agents mission is to discover whether or not Nina was knowingly involved in Jason’s plan. A trio of street smart children – Percy, Matthias, and Alia are placed in the prison to aid this double agents plan. An action-packed adventure then begins when Nina escapes with the other three children to hide out in the woods. Percy, Matthias, and Alia go through a series of tests to confirm Nina’s loyalty to them (as they are illegal shadow children themselves). 

 

It is at this point in the book, on pages 142-145 that many of the questions in the book are revealed to Nina. Betrayal is a major problem in their world, and this is why secret plans and tests are in place to ensure the safety and protection of many of the illegal shadow children. Among the Betrayed describes a world in which illegal shadow children and their supporters are at odds with the government and the Population Police. Major political figures are in power, secret meetings are held, and public rallies occur in a hopeful effort to establish equality for all.

 

As the book comes to a close, it gives the reader a hint that the story is not over. Jason is working with a faction of the Population Police, in which the Nina’s friends and colleagues do not support. There is a sequel to this book, Among the Barons.

 

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Students may identify periods in history that contain similar themes of change and equality as reflected in this book. Page 55 gives the reader a great description of prison conditions during this time.

 

MOVIE, BOOK, & HISTORICAL CONNECTIONS: I enjoyed this book. It reminded me of the movie, Gattaca, and the book, The Last Book in the Universe. The idea of population control is really not a new concept – Ancient Greece practiced forms of it while current Chinese policy discourages families from having more than one child. One can only hope that the extreme actions that have occurred in this story, do not happen in our future lives.

 

RELATED WEBSITES:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy

 

http://www.state.lib.la.us/empowerlibrary/DOUBLE%20IDENTITY.pdf

 

http://booktalkingcolorado.ppld.org/scripts/FullRecord.asp?ID=234

 

http://nancykeane.com/booktalks/haddix_betrayed.htm

 

REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

 

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