Archive for category Children’s Fantasy

Family Fridays – Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

Genre: Children’s Fantasy

Ages: 9 and up

Blurb for the first book:

The Lightning Thief

After getting expelled from yet another school for yet another clash with mythological monsters only he can see, twelve-year-old Percy Jackson is taken to Camp Half-Blood, where he finally learns the truth about his unique abilities: He is a demigod, half human, half immortal. Even more stunning: His father is the Greek god Poseidon, ruler of the sea, making Percy one of the most powerful demigods alive. There’s little time to process this news. All too soon, a cryptic prophecy from the Oracle sends Percy on his first quest, a mission to the Underworld to prevent a war among the gods of Olympus.


I will try very hard to restrain my enthusiasm during this post, or we could all be here for a while. At least I would be, the rest of you would probably give up and head to greener pastures after the first 1,000 words. The Percy Jackson series is one of my all time favorite series. Though written for middle school aged children, the books appeal to children, teenagers, young adults, and not so young adults. They are, quite simply, amazing. The characters are more lifelike than just about any other author’s I can think of (Lindsay Buroker being another excellent example). Percy’s narration is clever, hilarious, snarky, and maintains a very realistic voice for an early teens boy. The world building is interesting, unique, and thorough without being overwhelming or tedious. The plots are well executed and you see characters develop (and not just physically) throughout the series.

Another thing I liked about it: Percy and most of the rest of the demigod children are ADHD and Dyslexic. Riordan takes these challenges and turns them into advantages in Percy’s new reality. I love that – a reminder that not all of us are wired the same way, and that can be a good thing. Also, in a later series, one of the demigods is lactose intolerant. Represent!

Something you see quite often with book series written for this age group is that the themes and characters become more mature and darker as the series progresses. Here there is a little bit of that, but not nearly as much as, say, Harry Potter. A child who can handle the first book emotionally will be able to handle the last book as well, which is not necessarily the case with the Harry Potter series. The bottom line is that I cannot think of anything negative to say about these books. Some books you just read with a big smile on your face, and for me, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books are way at the top of that list.

Random side notes:

The five books in this series in order are: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian. There is a continuing series, The Heroes of Olympus, which features some of the Camp Halfblood gang as well as some new characters. It is also excellent, but even though the age ranges given for it at various online sources is the same as the original series, it feels older to me (the characters are in high school now and, for example, focuses more on girlfriend/boyfriend relationships) – not a bad thing, but something to be aware of if you started Percy Jackson with children on the younger end of the spectrum.

I debated on whether to make this a regular post or a Family Fridays post. Although I feel like any age of fantasy (or even book) lover would be able to enjoy this series, I decided to post it under FFs because this is something the whole family could enjoy together.

Riordan sold the creative rights to the movies, had nothing to do with them, and claims he hasn’t even watched them. As of now only the first movie is out, with plans to release the second later this year. The first movie was terrible. I cannot even begin to describe how much I hated it. They took much of what made the book so great and either ignored it or did the opposite. In the interests of fairness, I have met people who really liked the movie.

Riordan also has an adult mystery series, which is quite good, but not something I’d care to read with a nine year old. So make sure you know which brand of Riordan you’re getting.

Whew – kept it under a thousand words…but not by much.




Family Fridays – The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I’m starting a new feature here on Lector’s Books: Family Fridays. This will showcase books appropriate for young readers or young to-be-read-to-ers. I’ll try to include a general age range for content/interest. It’s very hard to set a general guideline for what age will be interested in or able to handle the content of any given book (reading abilities and maturity levels vary so drastically between different kids), so I’ll give it a shot and you can use your best judgement.

For my first Family Friday, I’d like to not “feature” so much as “implore you to go out and buy immediately if you don’t have it”.

Book: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) by C.S.Lewis

Series: The Chronicles of Narnia

Genre: Children’s Fantasy

Ages: Online I saw an age range of “12-14 years” on one site, and “8 and up” on another. I would definitely lean more towards the younger end on this – it is a good, clean, fun read.

Review: Four children are sent to live in the country to escape the bombings of London during WWII. While there, they find a wardrobe that is a path to a different country, Narnia, where they must defeat the White Witch with the help of the talking animals and Aslan.

“Magical” is really the only word for this book. Lewis did an amazing job creating this fun world, and his children are very believable characters. Themes of forgiveness, redemption, bravery, and good vs. evil are woven deftly throughout.

There is an audiobook version read by Michael York, which is very well done, and a movie adaptation (the 2005 one) that is also quite good. Anyway you want to experience this, you will not regret it.

Other books in the series:  The series is ordered as follows: 1. The Magician’s Nephew, 2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 3. The Horse and His Boy, 4. Prince Caspian, 5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 6. The Silver Chair, and 7. The Last Battle.

The Magician’s Nephew was written several years after The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I do not like it. At all. If you read all the other books and like it, by all means go back and read it, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is my favorite, followed by The Horse and His Boy, then The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The Silver Chair and The Last Battle are both quite a bit darker than the other books. If you enjoy The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I’d recommend next reading Prince Caspian and then The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as these continue on with the Pevensie children. The Silver Chair has Eustace, who is introduced in Dawn Treader, and introduces Jill, but I’d recommend reading The Horse and His Boy first instead. Its characters are mostly outside the Pevensie story arc, so it can really be read at any time.  So, in short (too late), my recommendations would be to read the books in this order: 2, 4, 5, 3, 6, 7, and 1 (if you must.

, ,