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Rick Riordan is a former English and history teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area [California] and San Antonio, Texas. He is a full-time writer, writing both adult [Tres Navarre series] and children’s books. Interestingly enough, the Percy Jackson series started when his son, Haley, asked him to tell him bedtime stories about Greek mythology ; as time and the stories went on, it was Haley who suggested that his father write the stories as a book. The author did so and used students in middle school as guinea pigs to check for readability, appeal and advice on the title and how Percy’s sword worked. The Percy Jackson series is published in multiple languages and distributed worldwide.
* compare and contrast Greek and Roman Gods and myths
*compare and contrast the book and the movie
*challenge my students to write a different ending
*use as a read aloud for kindergarten and first grade; after each chapter, the students would write one sentence that would summarize that chapter
*sort pictures and words/names
*write the story [a short one] from another character’s point of view
*act out a scene from the story
*make a timeline of the story
*design a new cover for the book through the eyes of another character [other than luke]
*make a comic of the book
*write a text to self piece
Analytical and Critical
This story was first told as a bedtime story to support his second graders instruction in ancient Greek mythology. His son, Haley, had been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. With this in mind, the author set forth on his journey to make Greek mythology an engaging, exciting, learning experience for his son. We must look to the purpose of the piece in order to understand why the author made some of the choices that he made within his story.
From the first page we know that the child in the story, Percy, is 12 years old and has ADHD and dyslexia. Why did the author take the time to incorporate this into the story? His own son was diagnosed with both, as and so [being the teacher that he is] wanted his son to make a text to self connection. There are references throughout the story about both ADHD and dyslexia. One being that the symptoms that Percy has, inability to sit still and the way he sees letters and words are simply because he is a demigod, a half-blood. Would Haley, the author’s real son, have connected with the story without this? Probably, however this made the connection closer.
The story is told by Percy, from his point of view. The story would have most definitely been different had it been told from Luke’s, Ares, or Zeus’ point of view. Luke being the antagonist, felt like he was jilted, always jealous and envious of Percy. Would he, Luke, have felt the need to steal Zeus’ lightning bolt or Hades’ helmet if he hadn’t been so jealous? Possibly he wouldn’t have been used so easily by Kronos. Luke’s jealousy and betrayal to Percy is unfortunately commonplace among the human race [and evidently the gods and demigods]. Was this a message within the story? Watch your back; beware of gifts.
The setting for Olympus and Underworld was typical of what one would expect. The Underworld described with dark, ugly, unpleasant words; a place to be dreaded. Olympus was on the other hand, was depicted as beautiful, bright, and enjoyable. The author also put the half-bloods [or demigods] in separate cabins; similar types with similar types; children of the same blood together. This reminds me of groups/clicks at school; children of similar traits tend to group together. The author tended to relate the characters not only to Greek mythology, and present day, but the characters also related to each other similarly by how the people do in real life—bantering back and forth, etc. Zeus, Poseidon and Hades were pitted against one another in the story, just as sometimes happens in real families—another similarity to real life. The more real life connections were made in the story, the more the reader can connect.
The author traded use of the words “helm” and “helmet” in the story. I thought this interchange was a good move for reinforcing vocabulary. Was this something that he intended to do? Or was it unintentional?
After reluctantly starting The Lightning Thief, I was drawn in after the first chapter. It is easy to read, engaging, and somewhat different than what I am used to reading. The fact that the book centered around ancient Greek mythology put me off before I started reading, however Riordan presented the Gods and myths in a relaxing comfortable way. I revisited the mythology from ancient Greece, learned more about them than I can remember from school, walked away refreshed and anxious to read the next book in the series. Since I am a mystery fan, I had already figured out that Luke was not the guy he appeared to be when he gave the winged shoes to Percy and then wanted to make sure that Percy was wearing them [when he called]. I identified with Percy, Annabeth and Grover. Against all odds, they persevered to the end and accomplished their goal. Each one was rather quiet and unassuming, but proved to be skillful and talented, each in their own way. Even as one adventure ended, they pushed forward to a new uncertain one—Percy at a new school living with his mom, Annabeth tried once again to live with her family, and Grover set off to find Pan.
Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief
By Marianne Martin
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