The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Vol 3

Link continues on his quest to save the children from his village and dispel the dark clouds that are threatening to take over the land. Link returns to the Twilight Realm in the form of a wolf and quickly discovers that the children are stuck in the Twilight Realm as lost souls! With the help of an unlikely wolf ally, Link must learn to become a much stronger warrior if he wants a chance to save those he loves.

Much like the previous two installments, this graphic novel closely follows the plot of the video game with a few diversions and added elements. For intense Zelda fans, another taste of Twilight Princess will make this graphic novel enjoyable. However, casual gamers will likely be bored due to the repetitive plot, and those who are not familiar with the Twilight Princess game may be confused in a few places. All in all, this graphic novel is best for readers who are already a part of the Link fandom.

Link is a lovable character that will capture readers’ interests. While one of the children becomes slightly more developed in this installment, Link is mostly surrounded by two-dimensional characters. There is more action in this book than in the first book, but aside from the last battle, most of the battle images are not graphic. In Twilight Princess Vol 3, Link continues to explore what true strength really is, and he finally realizes that strength lies in protecting the innocent.

Twilight Princess Vol 3 has intense fighting and a dark tone. Even though the manga artwork is incredible, the fight scenes are a bit confusing because there is so much going on. Unlike the previous books, this volume shows different characters’ points of view, which helps develop the characters and gives the story an interesting twist. Twilight Princess Vol 3 continues to develop Link and his world. Although Twilight Princess Vol 3 contains action and adventure, the slow pace of world-building may make it difficult for some readers to get through the story.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • While in his wolf form, Link kills two monsters by ripping them apart with his teeth.
  • Link fights a skeleton warrior as part of a training session. At the end of their fight, Link cuts off the skeleton warrior’s head. The skeleton warrior then stands up, picks up his head, and congratulates Link.
  • A captured village girl considers committing suicide. The girl wonders, “Rather than living alone with monsters…” and almost cuts her wrist with the pottery shard, but is interrupted by a kitten that needs her help.
  • Link battles a monster and his minions during a 32-page battle. In the end, Link slashes the monster across the chest with his sword, and the reader sees the monster bleeding profusely before he falls into a gorge.
  • A monster clubs a village boy in the head, and then is attacked by a mob of village children.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Link lives in a world with magic, shadow beasts, and demons. When people from the land of light are engulfed by the Twilight Realm, they turn into lost souls. This is what happens to the children from Link’s village. When he finds them, he cannot interact with them, as they are merely lost souls.
  • When Link travels to the Twilight Realm, he is transformed into a giant wolf. While in his wolf form, Link can communicate with animals.
  • Link learns that “humans aren’t the only race living in Hyrule” when he meets a Goron. Gorons are giant rock-like creatures that “live in Death Mountain and eat rocks.”
  • Link meets a magical wolf that transports Link to his realm in the clouds. Once there, the wolf shows himself as a skeleton warrior and trains Link to be a better swordsman.

Spiritual Content

  • There is a legend that when evil people tried to use magic to take over the land, “the goddesses grew angry at this affront and sent four spirits of light to seal the upstarts’ magical power away in the shadow crystal. Furthermore, the mirror of shadow prevented these wizards from entering the world of light. They were exiled to the twilight realm.”
  • Renado, a shaman and physician, takes the children to his village to protect them.
  • The children hide from the monsters in a house. There is a statue of a spirit in the house. The shaman says, “perhaps the power of the spirit Eldin does not allow the monsters to enter.” Link later meets the Eldin, “one of the spirits of light who gather in Hyrule and protect this land.”
  • Renado says, “thank the gods,” when his daughter is saved by monsters.

by Morgan Lynn

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Vol 2

When Link travels to the Twilight Realm to save Ilia, he is transformed into a wolf and is quickly captured. A Twilight imp named Minda takes a liking to Link and helps him escape. Minda introduces Link to Princess Zelda, who explains how the King of Shadows has cast the kingdom of Hyrule into perpetual twilight. The King of Shadows seeks to rule everything under the light and dark. Princess Zelda is powerless to stop him. She prays every day that the gods will save her people. Is Link the prayed-for hero?

But as a wolf, what can Link do? He can talk to animals in his wolf form, but he cannot communicate with his friends or wield a weapon. As Minda leads Link on a quest, it is unclear to readers and to Link himself whether Minda is helping Link save his people or tricking him for her own gain. While this graphic novel has more action than the first book, video gamers who have played Twilight Princess may become bored, as this graphic novel follows the game so closely that it begins to feel like a recap. For readers unfamiliar with the games, this installment may be more interesting.

Link is a relatable character that readers will root for, but the other characters in the story remain two-dimensional, leaving much to be desired. This story has several battle scenes scattered throughout, but there are only a few violent images where Link is shown slashing monsters with his sword or attacking in his wolf-form. The images are not gory. The theme of Twilight Princess Vol 2 follows Link’s struggle to find his inner strength in order to protect his loved ones.

Twilight Princess Vol 2 is darker than the video game. However, the story will appeal to reluctant readers because the Manga-style illustrations tell the story through pictures and uses a limited amount of words. Each page contains 1-6 simple sentences, which appear in thought bubbles. Similar to the original Batman comics, Twilight Princess’s battle scenes use onomatopoeia words, such as “Bwommm” and “gyaaah.” Overall, Link fans may be better off sticking with the video game and skipping the graphic novels altogether.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A “demon thief” is banished to the Twilight Realm. He is stabbed with a sword, and the flesh melts from his face before he is sucked into the Twilight Realm.
  • When Princess Zelda tells the story of her kingdom being attacked, the illustrations depict an explosion and a monster slowly crushing a guard to death.
  • Link battles a shadow monster and eventually kills it. The fight is illustrated over six pages.
  • A demon monkey lashes out with fire, burning the forest and killing several animals, who are drawn terrified, aflame, and wounded.
  • Link fights the demon monkey. Their first battle takes place over three pages. Their second battle takes place over five pages.
  • Link battles a giant plant monster and slays it. This battle takes place over nine pages.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Link lives in a world with magic, shadow beasts, and demons. When people from the land of light are engulfed by the Twilight Realm, they turn into lost souls.
  • When Link travels to the Twilight Realm, he is transformed into a giant wolf. While in his wolf form, Link can communicate with animals.
  • Link meets an alpha monkey who “absorbed the power of shadow… He was originally a monkey, but now he’s a demon. He can’t tell friend from foe.”
  • When Link unlocks his instinctive wolf senses, he’s able to see the insects that are “the true form of the shadow demons.” One of the insects is controlling the monkey demon, making him act cruelly.
  • Link finds a boomerang, which speaks to him. It says, “I am the fairy of winds that inhabits the boomerang. You freed me from an evil force, so I can reclaim my true power… Please, use the boomerang in which my power resides.”

Spiritual Content

  • There is a legend that when evil people tried to use magic to take over the land, “the goddesses grew angry at this affront and sent four spirits of light to seal the upstarts’ magical power away in the shadow crystal. Furthermore, the mirror of shadow prevented these wizards from entering the world of light. They were exiled to the twilight realm.”
  • Link meets a light spirit who tells him, “By orders of the gods, I am one of the four spirits of light who protect Hyrule.” The spirit asks Link for his help in saving the land from darkness.

by Morgan Lynn

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Vol 1

Link is a simple boy in a small, peaceful village. However, he lived a very different life before he came to the village less than two years ago. Before, he had been training with the sword to become a border guard. Then, in a tragic accident, Link’s entire town was sucked into the blackness by a Death God and vanished. Link fled in terror and has been hiding ever since, though he hasn’t been able to escape his guilt.

When monsters invade Link’s safe haven, he springs into action to defend his new home. But these strange creatures are nothing like Link has ever seen before. Will he be able to redeem himself and save his new home? Or is Link doomed to watch another town be swallowed by the darkness?

Link himself is an enjoyable and relatable hero. He has a sense of humor despite his tragic past. He tries to be patient with the children of the village, and when he loses his temper, he regrets it later. However, the other supporting characters in the story are undeveloped caricatures.

There are some mild violent and sexual images, though these do not abound. Specifically, the monsters and Death God may be frightening to younger readers, and parents may not appreciate the bikini-clad princess that appears in the first chapter. However, for the 13+ recommended age range, the images in this graphic novel are much less graphic and sexual than other popular teen graphic novels. Still, the graphic novel is noticeably darker than the video game, such as when the Death God is introduced, Link suffers a gruesome injury.

For fans of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess video game, this graphic novel will be an enjoyable read. Though the graphic novel diverges from the video game, there are enough similarities that gamers will recognize and enjoy. Link is given a different backstory in this graphic novel, which provides enough of a difference that it is not simply a repeat of the game. For readers who have not played the video game and are meeting Link for the first time, they may find that the plot drags. While there is plenty of action at the end, the first half of the book meanders around, introducing characters and aspects of Link’s life from the video game. While interesting enough to gamers, there might not be enough action to hook new readers.

Sexual Content

  • The Twilight Princess, who only appears in chapter one, is dressed in a bikini top and sarong skirt that bares most of her legs.
  • When Link gets rammed by a goat, he thinks, “It’s weird for Ordon goats to be so aggressive. Is it mating season?”

Violence

  • The sorcerer Zant attacks the Twilight Princess. There is a giant explosion as he overpowers her.
  • A village girl is shot in the shoulder with an arrow and then kidnapped.
  • Link fights the monster trying to kidnap a village girl. The fight is depicted over 11 pages. At the end of it, Link’s arm is cut off.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Link lives in a world with magic and monsters.
  • The sorcerer, Zant, turns the people who live in the Twilight Realm into monsters to serve his evil plans.
  • When Link pulls a sword from a stone, his village is sucked into darkness by a terrifying Death God, who appears like a skeleton with glowing eyes.
  • There are drawings of goblins, skeletons, and other monsters that invade the realm and terrify the villagers. Most of this attack is not shown. One of the monsters threatens the people who don’t live in the twilight realm, saying, “I will curse them all.”
  • When Link travels to the Twilight Realm, he is transformed into a giant wolf.

Spiritual Content

  • The villagers speak of the spirits that protect them several times. For instance, a village woman tells Link, “The spirits give strength to all manner of things. They bring light and consciousness to all things.”
  • There is a legend that when evil people tried to use magic to take over the land, “the goddesses grew angry at this affront and sent four spirits of light to seal the upstarts’ magical power away in the shadow crystal. Furthermore, the mirror of shadow prevented these wizards from entering the world of light. They were exiled to the twilight realm.”
  • A spirit of light heals Link’s arm after it is cut off in a battle.

by Morgan Lynn

Revenge of the Dragon Lady

After killing a fierce dragon named Gorzil, Wiglaf returns to the academy and begins learning more about being a dragon slayer. But soon, a scout appears warning everyone about Seetha, Gorzil’s mother. Seetha wants to avenge her son’s death. Wiglaf isn’t ready to fight an angry dragon, so he searches for help and finds a librarian, a woman who thinks that “clothes make the man,” and finally a wizard who keeps making mistakes while casting spells.

In order to help Wiglaf, a wizard casts a courage spell that makes Wiglaf feel no fear. Wiglaf isn’t afraid to attack the “Mother of all Dragons” (or at least the mother of 3,684 of them). Will Wiglaf’s fearless attitude get him killed?

Revenge of the Dragon Lady brings more silly magic and dragon danger into Wiglaf’s life. The story adds in a fashion-forward woman that really believes the ridiculous new outfit is all Wiglaf needs to slay the dragon. The selfish headmaster also takes a larger role in the story, which is a fun addition to the story. Readers will want to read The New Kid at School first, because Revenge of the Dragon Lady has many of the same characters as the first book in the series.  

Unlike many children’s books, the Dragon Slayers’ Academy doesn’t rely on bullying to create conflict. Instead, the children encourage Wiglaf and try to help him stay alive. The fast-paced story uses humor and suspense to keep readers engaged. Wiglaf is a kind-hearted boy who doesn’t want to use violence—even on a fire-breathing dragon. Instead of having sword fights and death, each dragon dies in an unrealistic, but comical way.

The story uses simple vocabulary and short paragraphs to tell a fast-paced story. Readers may need help with some of the more complex sentences and the medieval language. For example, Wiglaf’s friends tell him to “smite” the dragon, and Wiglaf tells someone to “unhand me.” Full-page black and white illustrations are scattered throughout the story. The detailed illustrations bring the characters to life with exaggerated facial expressions. A map of the academy and a DSA yearbook appear at the end of the book. Each yearbook page has a picture of a character as well as important information about him/her.

Adventure-seeking readers will enjoy Revenge of the Dragon Lady and cheer for Wiglaf as he proves that you don’t need to be mighty in order to be a hero. Readers who want more medieval fun should read the Roland Wright Series by Tony Davis.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • During a food fight in the cafeteria, Wiglaf throws an eel, and “at that very moment, the flesh-and-blood headmaster walked through the dining hall door. . . The eel stuck to Mordred’s forehead. Green eel juice dripped into his angry violet eyes.”
  • Wiglaf and his classmates discuss killing a dragon named Seetha. His friends tell Wiglaf to “Take up your sword. Smite the dragon on the noggin.”
  • The dragon, Seetha, makes fun of Wiglaf, and then, “she made a hacking sound in the back of her throat. Up came a blob of fire. She spit it at the straw dragon. WHOOSH! It burst into flames.” The headmaster tells Seetha, “Go ahead and have fun with the boy. But, please. Try not to set the school on fire.”
  • Wiglaf charges the dragon and “Seetha’s eyes widened with surprise. Then she blew a puff of red-hot dragon breath right at Wiglaf. The blast of smelly heat almost knocked Wiglaf off his feet. Sweat popped out on his brow. But still he ran toward the dragon. With one claw, Seetha knocked the sword out of Wiglaf’s hand. With the other, she struck him. He went rolling head over heels.”
  • Seetha “dangled Wiglaf further over the moat.” Wiglaf dropped his dagger, which falls on Seetha’s toe. Then Seetha “tossed Wiglaf away. He sailed through the air. With a thump, he landed on the ground. He bounced twice. Then he lay still.”
  • Wiglaf hides from Seetha, and when she tries to go get him, “Seetha teetered on the roof above him. . . Her wings flapped clumsily. Her tail lashed the air. She swayed dangerously back and forth. She lost her balance. Down she plunged. SPLASH. Seetha hit the moat.” Later Wiglaf explains that “Seetha died from her secret weakness! It was a bath that killed the beast.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • “Blazing King Ken’s britches!” is used as an exclamation.

Supernatural

  • The headmaster hears a fluttering noise and thinks it is a bird. He yelped, “A bird of evil omen has come to devour us all!” He realizes that the bird is actually his scout.
  • Wiglaf’s pigs can talk. A wizard “put a spell on her, [so] Daisy could speak Pig Latin.”
  • In order to make a wizard appear, “all Wiglaf had to do was say Zelnoc’s name backwards three times.” Wiglaf said the spell and “suddenly, a tiny bit of smoke appeared. It grew into a smoky, blue pillar. Out of the smoke stepped Zelnoc.”
  • Zelnoc accidentally says a spell that brings the entire wizard convention to a henhouse. He says “Romziz! Romziz! Romziz!” And then “Smoke filled the henhouse. Red smoke. Yellow smoke. Bright purple smoke. The hens sprang from their nest. . . But Wiglaf stood where he was. He watched in amazement as the smoke swirled into great columns. Out of each column stepped a wizard wearing a gown the color of smoke. Some two dozen wizards appeared in all.”
  • A wizard cast a bravery spell on Wiglaf. He chanted, “Spineless, gutless, weak-kneed brat, Chicken-hearted scaredy-cat, cringing coward, yellow-belly, liver-livered, heart of jelly. Change this boy who’s standing here, into He-Who-Knows-No-Fear!” Wiglaf then dashes off to kill a dragon.

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

 

The New Kid at School

Wiglaf, the smallest boy in the family, gets pushed around by his brothers. Then a traveling minstrel tells Wiglaf he was born to be a hero. Wiglaf doesn’t think he will ever do anything heroic. When he reads the Dragon Slayer’s Academy ad posted on the village message tree, Wiglaf and his pet pig head to the academy. Even though Wiglaf can’t stand seeing any creature suffer—not even a fly—he’s convinced he can learn to slay a dragon. His first day at Dragon Slayer’s Academy will be a day he never forgets.

Twelve older brothers love to boss Wiglaf around. Much like Cinderella, Wiglaf must wash the dishes and do a never-ending list of chores. Wiglaf befriends the minstrel, who then teaches him how to read. Despite his small size, Wiglaf is convinced that he can be a hero. The kind, likable Wiglaf isn’t ashamed to be small, poor, or different than others. Instead, he uses his knowledge to defeat the dragon without using his sword, Surekill.

The New Kid at School mixes a little bit of silly magic, a talking pig, and a kind classmate to create a delightful story that makes readers giggle. Wiglaf’s adventure is told with humor while also highlighting the importance of work. This is shown when Wiglaf did not have any money to pay the academy’s tuition, so he offers to wash dishes. Another character empties eel traps in order to stay at the school. The conclusion has several surprises that will have readers eager to pick up the next book in the series, Revenge of the Dragon Lady.

The story uses simple vocabulary and short paragraphs to tell a fast-paced story. Readers may need help with some of the more complex sentences and the medieval language. For example, the dragon slayers are hoping to take the dragon’s “hoards” and Wiglaf is told to go “thitherwald.” Full-page black and white illustrations are scattered throughout the story. The detailed illustrations bring the characters to life with exaggerated facial expressions. A map of the academy and a DSA yearbook appear at the end of the book. Each yearbook page has a picture of a character as well as important information about him/her. Adventure-seeking readers will enjoy The New Kid at School and cheer for Wiglaf as he proves that you don’t need to be mighty in order to be a hero.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A minstrel tells a story about Sir Gilford, who teased a dragon named Old Snart. “Well, Old Snart hated to be teased. He began whimpering and crying until he collapsed in a pool of tears. He hardly noticed when Sir Gilford sliced off his head.”
  • Wiglaf’s mother wants to hurry into town because she “doesn’t want to miss the hanging.”
  • Gorzil, a dragon, takes all of the town’s gold. Then, “he swears to burn Toenail to the ground unless a son and daughter of the village are outside his cave tomorrow. Tomorrow at dawn, in time for breakfast.” After a lottery, two children are sent to become Gorzil’s dinner.
  • Eric and Wiglaf go to Gorzil’s cave. Eric yells, “I am your worst nightmare!” Gorzil becomes angry and “sparks shot from his nose. They scorched the hem of Eric’s dress. Then Gorzil raised the tip of his tail over his head and whacked Eric’s sword out of his hand.”
  • After Wiglaf tells the dragon a series of really bad knock-knock jokes, “Gorzil’s chest heaved. His tail lashed one final time and was still. His tongue flopped out the side of his mouth and lay in a puddle of yellow drool. Then, with a thunderous poof, Gorzil’s body exploded into a cloud of dragon dust.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • The headmaster calls a boy a “ninny.” Later, someone calls Wiglaf a “ninny.”
  • Wiglaf’s brother tells a minstrel to “be gone, varlet!”
  • “Blazing King Ken’s britches!” is used as an exclamation.

Supernatural

  • A wizard cast a spell saying, “Oink-a-la, doink-a-la, fee fi fig! This pig shall be a talking pig!” Then the pig speaks in Pig Latin.
  • A wizard gives Wiglaf an enchanted sword called Surekill. When Wiglaf cries for help, the “sword leaped out of Wiglaf’s hand. It glowed red hot as it soared up, up into the air. . . They waited for it to reappear. But the sword had vanished.”

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

The 13-Story Treehouse: Monkey Mayhem!

Andy and Terry write books together while they live in every young boy’s dream—a 13-story treehouse! The treehouse is the most amazing treehouse in the world—complete with a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a marshmallow machine that follows you around and shoots marshmallows in your mouth, a secret underground laboratory, swinging vines, a tank of man-eating sharks, and an endless lemonade fountain. It seems like the fun never ends for Andy and Terry.

But when faced with a range of slapstick scenarios, they soon realize they still have not finished their next bestselling book. With the threat of going back to their atrocious old jobs, they must bond together as they fight off a pack of wild monkeys, a giant gorilla, and a sea monster while writing their next book before their deadline. Will Andy and Terry succeed or will they be forced to go back to their old jobs – at the monkey house?

Griffiths and Denton created a silly, funny, and ridiculous story that readers will laugh at from beginning to end. The book also teaches readers about the importance of friendship. Andy and Terry demonstrate the importance of friends working together in order to solve problems. Without each other, they would not be able to survive a giant gorilla, a sea monster attack, or even write a book. Also, the funny black and white illustrations contribute to a positive reading experience and will help engage even the most reluctant readers.

Even though the story is funny, much of the humor comes from bathroom jokes and immature humor. Many of the jokes are inappropriate for young readers, and sometimes the jokes can be cruel and inconsiderate, such as when Terry painted Jill’s cat bright yellow without telling her. These jokes can leave a bad impression on a young audience. Readers will either love or hate The 13-Story Treehouse. Some will find the story laugh-out-loud funny while others will find the repetitious nature of the story and Terry and Andy’s jokes crude and annoying. But in the end, readers who want a story that’s ridiculously outrageous should pick up The 13-story Treehouse.

Sexual Content

  • Terry and a mermaid kiss so he can become a merman.

Violence

  • After fighting about Terry’s new invention and their new giant banana, Terry whacks Andy over the head with the banana causing Andy to go unconscious. Terry thought, “I’d killed you!” when Andy wakes up.
  • Andy eavesdrops on the sea monster’s plan to eat Terry. The sea monster thinks, “I’ll lure him down beneath the water, and then his body I will slaughter. Oh how I’ll enjoy devouring him – I’ll tear him apart, limb from limb. I’ll eat his eyes and ears and nose and suck the marrow from his toes.”
  • Terry wards off a wild pack of monkeys with a giant banana. When the monkeys attack, “Terry picked up the giant banana and, holding it like a baseball bat, began whacking back the marshmallows, pens, pencils, erasers, paintbrushes, paints, and monkey poop being hurled in our direction. And then he began knocking the monkeys right out of the tree!”
  • A giant gorilla intentionally squishes Barky the dog. Andy describes, “ the giant gorilla lifted up one of its gigantic feet and stomped on him.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • When the marshmallow machine automatically shoots marshmallows into Terry and Andy’s mouth, Andy asks, “How do you shut this stupid thing off?”
  • Andy thinks Terry’s favorite TV show has the “world’s dumbest dog on the world’s dumbest TV show.”
  • Andy says Terry is out of his “tiny, pea-brained, numbskull-sized mind!”

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Matthew Perkey

 

 

 

 

Survival Tails: World War II

The messenger pigeon Francis is on a mission. He must carry an urgent message to code breakers so they can warn London of an upcoming Nazi attack. Francis wants to do his part to help win World War II, but while on a dangerous assignment, Francis is injured. Now Francis cannot fly and is stranded in the middle of the London Zoo, but he is still determined to deliver his message and help win the war.

While at the zoo, Francis meets the world-famous panda Ming. Since coming to the zoo, Ming has always been too afraid to speak. When Francis lands in Ming’s enclosure, Ming knows she must do something to help Francis and the other animals at the zoo. With the help of a kind zookeeper, two mischievous monkeys, and other friends, Ming fights to help Francis recover his strength. When the war finally arrives in London, Francis, Ming, and the other animals must work together to save themselves. . . and maybe even London itself.

The life of a carrier pigeon comes to life with the introduction of Francis, who is patriotic, brave, and dedicated to helping his country and others. Readers will fall in love with the fearless pigeon as he befriends the zoo animals. Francis’s mission is never far from his mind, and he continually works to find a solution to his problem. Because the war is told from the animals’ point of view, readers are given a unique view of World War II. Even though the focus is on the animals’ fears, the story doesn’t leave out the danger to humans.

Unlike Francis, panda bear Ming desires to be silent because she is afraid of making deep connections with others. At a young age, Ming was traumatized when she was taken away from her panda bear family. However, with the help of Francis, Ming is able to find her voice and help others. When Ming sees others take risks to help Francis deliver his message, she learns to put her own fears aside. Francis tells Ming, “Don’t let fear stop you from doing what you want to do. What you need to do.”

Survival Tails: World War II will grab readers’ attention from the very first page. The non-stop action and suspense will keep readers flipping the pages until the very end. Readers will connect with Francis and the other animals as they help each other survive. Francis’s dedication to the war effort and his friends is inspiring. Even though Francis is just a pigeon, he will leave readers with valuable life lessons and will encourage them to never give up.

The end of the book has historical background on the Blitz, a World War II timeline, and a glossary. At the end of the story, Francis says, “Hopefully, the world will have learned something from this tragedy. That is the one good thing that could come of it.” Survival Tails: World War II will help younger readers learn about the sacrifices made during World War II. The story will introduce younger readers to the events in World War II and help spark their curiosity about the time period.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A soldier brings an important message to a lieutenant general. When the soldier appears, “blood trickled down his face from beneath his helmet, dripping into his eyes, and his uniform was ripped and muddied.” The soldier says, “I came as fast as I could to get the message to you, sir. Didn’t even stop when the Nazis started shooting at me.”
  • When the Nazis bomb London, the panda bears saw “planes [that] flew in a V formation, like a flock of geese, gliding low over London, seeking their targets. Gunfire echoed around the city, then thud, thud, thuds in quick succession as the bombs landed. . . snaking trails of black smoke rose high into the sky.”
  • When Francis is trying to deliver a message, shots are fired at him. “As Francis flew closer, the gunfire came again, but this time he was ready. He easily dodged the bullets, then moved into position so that he still had the pillbox in sight. . . Francis passed safely out of range. . .”
  • Francis sees a plane start shooting. Then the plane “veered to the left[,] but caught its wing on one of the barrage balloon’s thick cables. Its entire left wing sheared off and the plane fell into a tailspin, exploding in a blast of blinding light and heat that erupted toward Francis.” Francis tried to fly higher to avoid being injured but “his wings finally gave up on him. He froze in midair for a split second before he began to fall.”
  • While walking around the zoo, Francis gets hit on the head. “It was an empty peanut shell. . . He pretended to walk away, but then spun to face his attacker, getting hit directly in the face by another nut.” His “attacker” was two monkeys, who were trying to have fun.
  • When Ming sees a polar bear for the first time, a blackbird tells her, “Sometimes I hang around here at feeding time, and it’s just a bloodbath! The way they use their sharp teeth to rip into the. . .”
  • When a Toucan takes the canister with the message inside, Francis goes after him. Fighter planes appear and “huge missiles fell from the sky in quick succession, whistling as they dropped lower, lower, lower, then hit their target with an enormous blast that threw both Francis and Toca off course.”
  • In order to get the canister back, Francis “opened his beak wide and, with a loud war cry, dove at Toca, knocking them both into a spin. Their wings and claws became entangled as they both struggled to break free, sending a flurry of feathers through the air as the solid, unforgiving ground rose fast and faster to greet them.” Francis gets the canister but is injured.
  • The animals watch as Nazis drop incendiaries over London. “All around them, more and more incendiaries fell from the sky, raining down like droplets of fire.” Fire quickly spreads around the zoo and animals panic. “The fires continued to rage all around them, and now, along with the incendiaries, bombs were being dropped. There were screams as humans ran for shelter. Their cries were drowned out by the echoing explosions and drones of planes—both enemies and allies—flying above.” The animals race toward a tunnel so they can hide. As they ran, a “bomb exploded within the zoo grounds and a huge geyser of water burst forth from the ground as it hit the main water pipe. Francis fought against the heavy spray, but his wings were waterlogged.”
  • As Francis looks for animals to help, his friend Paddy follows him. Paddy is injured, and Francis “wrapped his good wing around Paddy as the two hobbled along toward the tunnel. There was another explosion as the camel house as hit, blocking their path. Francis and Paddy were thrown back against a wall by the blast.” When Francis finds Paddy, he sees “a small bundle of bloodied fathers lay unmoving on the ground.” Paddy dies. The scene of the zoo being bombed is described over eight pages.
  • The zoo that the pandas were moved to is also bombed. “Before Ming could shout out a warning, the bomb landed just beyond the giraffes’ paddock. She threw herself at Tang and Sung and knocked them to the ground, sacrificing her own safety to shield them with her own body. Ming felt as though she were caught inside a firestorm. The explosion sent a fierce blast sweeping over them in scorching waves.” The humans put out the fire.
  • After the zoo was bombed, Francis notices “a few animals still wandering the zoo, looking as dazed and exhausted as Francis felt. . . Francis had seen humans with the same lost expressions at Normandy—those who had returned from the front line, some inured, some worse, with their eyes glazed over.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • In order to relocate the panda bears, they are shot with a tranquilizer gun. After being shot with the tranquilizer, “Ming’s vision blurred in and out of focus. Thang lay still beside her, his tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth.”

Language

  • Ming says someone is a coward.

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • When Francis was sent to deliver a message, he “spread his wings, praying that they were ready for the long, dangerous journey ahead.”

The Hidden Oracle

There is no way to punish an immortal god, right? That is what almighty Apollo, god of the sun, thought, but he is quickly proven wrong as his father, Zeus, casts him down to the mortal world as a powerless, friendless, and—even worse—ugly sixteen-year-old boy named Lester Papadopoulos. As if it can’t get any worse, Apollo (now Lester) can’t even remember how he incurred Zeus’s mighty wrath.

With nowhere and no one to turn to, Apollo lays his trust in a runty twelve-year-old girl named Meg and the teenage demigods that reside in Camp Half-Blood. There he seeks help from the campers, including some of his own children, and begins to discover disturbing secrets that may endanger those he grows close to.

Fast-paced and witty, The Hidden Oracle is a humorous read for younger and older readers alike. Fans of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series will rejoice as Riordan once again paints a world of mystery and mythology that enthralls readers. However, the book touches on sensitive topics such as sexuality and battle violence that may be of concern for some parents. Nevertheless, it is an entertaining novel that is well worth the read.

Sexual Content

  • Apollo mentions his hope that Meg does not develop a crush on Percy Jackson.
  • Apollo has two loves of his life that he mentions several times throughout the novel. Both of his relationships ended in tragedy. One of his loves was Hyacinthus, a strong hero who happened to be a man. The other love was Daphne, whom he dreams of and describes as having, “those lips I had never kissed but never stopped dreaming of.” Due to losing these loves, he swears off marriage as others “had never possessed my heart” as his true loves once had.
  • Apollo encounters some of his demigod children at camp Half-Blood. When he meets each of them, he remembers the romantic relationships that he had with their parents. “To my teenage self, our romance felt like something that I’d watched in a movie a long time ago—a movie my parents wouldn’t have allowed me to see.”
  • Apollo is embarrassed by the attention of some female campers, and he says, “My face burned. Me—the manly paragon of romance—reduced to a gawky, inexperienced boy!”
  • Nico di Angelo and Apollo’s son, Will Solace, are dating. Apollo has no problems with their relationship because he has had “thirty-three mortal girlfriends and eleven mortal boyfriends? I’ve lost count.”
  • Apollo once created a child with another man.
  • Apollo “accidentally saw Ares naked in the gymnasium.”
  • One of Apollo’s former girlfriends, Cyrene, got together with Ares to get revenge on Apollo.
  • Apollo argues that gods are almost always “depicted as nude, because we are flawless beings. Why would you ever cover up perfection?”

Violence

  • When Apollo crashes on Earth, a group of hoodlums beat him up. “My ribs throbbed. My stomach clenched . . . I toppled out and landed on my shoulder, which made a cracking sound against the asphalt.” His opponents pull out a knife, but it is not used. One of the boys “kicked me in the back. I fell on my divine face. . . I curled into a ball, trying to protect my ribs and head. The pain was intolerable. I retched and shuddered. I blacked out and came to, my vision swimming with red splotches.”
  • A lightning wielding cyclops kills one of Apollo’s sons. The death is not described.
  • Percy, Meg, and Apollo get into a car crash in which their car is totaled. No one is seriously injured.
  • A mythical grain spirit called a karpoi bites the head of a nosos clean off in one chomp.
  • Meg slaps Apollo’s face to wake him from a dangerous trance. He promptly vomits afterward.
  • Meg “poked Connor Stoll in the eyes and kicked Sherman Yang in the crotch.”
  • There is a famous story about Apollo in which he slays the mighty monster Python. He “killed Python without breaking a sweat. I flew into the mouth of the cave, called him out, unleashed an arrow, and BOOM!”
  • There is a legend about Apollo “skinning the satyr Marsyas alive after he challenged me to a music contest.”
  • After a dangerous camp activity, “Chiara had a mild concussion. Billie Ng had come down with a case of Irish step dancing. Holly and Laurel needed pieces of shrapnel removed from their backs, thanks to a close encounter with an exploding chainsaw Frisbee.”
  • Two satyrs die attempting to retrieve and bring the Oracle of Delphi back to Camp Half-Blood. Their deaths are not described.
  • Apollo wishes that he could have “picked a nice group of heroes and sent them to their deaths.”
  • Apollo and Meg battle killer ants who attack in groups, snap through Celestial bronze, and spit acid. “Meg’s swords whirled in golden arcs of destruction, lopping off leg segments, slicing antennae.”
  • The pair meet a geyser god that suggests that they do not jump in his water unless they “fancy boiling to death in a pit of scalding water.”
  • A man almost stabs himself to obey the orders of his master, Emperor Nero.
  • Apollo attempts to fight Nero and “let out a guttural howl and charged the emperor, intending to wring his hairy excuse for a neck.” Later, he fights one of the emperor’s bodyguards and “spun Vince like a discus, tossing him skyward with such force that he punched a Germanus-shaped hole in the tree canopy and sailed out of sight.”
  • There is a large battle near the conclusion of the novel in which many characters fight a giant mechanical statue. It is described over several chapters and many are hurt in the process, but the ending is victorious for the heroes.
  • Nyssa slaps Leo in the face because he was missing for several months.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Ambrosia is the food of the gods and their immortal bodies allow them to eat it as their normal food. Demigods eat ambrosia if they are sick or injured because it instantly heals them. However, if mortals attempt to eat it, they burn up inside and possibly combust.

Language

  • “Crud” and “darned” are each used once.
  • Meg tells Apollo that he has landed in Hell’s kitchen and he thinks, “It seemed wrong for a child to say Hell’s Kitchen.”
  • Apollo is dragged across a river, “scolding and cursing.”
  • Many demigods mutter ancient Greek curses when they are angry.
  • A demigod calls a friend, “Idiota,” when she does something wrong.
  • Many characters use the expressions, “thank the gods!” and “oh, gods.”
  • Percy “yelped a curse that would have made any Phoenician sailor proud.”

Supernatural

  • Most of the characters are demigods and have magical powers that they have inherited from their godly parent. For instance, Meg can control elements of nature (plants, soil, grain spirits, etc.) because her mother is Demeter, the goddess of agriculture.
  • Many Greek mythological creatures and monsters appear in the story.
  • Nico, the son of Hades, uses his powers to sit with his boyfriend by saying that the “zombies stay away” if he is seated near him.
  • It is mentioned that Leo died and then came back to life. The details of this event are found in one of Riordan’s previous books.
  • When a demigod is claimed at Camp Half-Blood, a glowing symbol appears above their head to show their parentage.  This happens to Meg during the campfire ceremony.
  • Some trees in the woods of Camp Half-Blood are the ancient Grove in Dodona, which is a powerful force that whispers prophecies. Finding this grove is the catalyst for the majority of the novel’s plot. The wood from these trees was used for the mast of the Argo, which could “speak to the Argonauts and give them guidance.”
  • Meg tells Apollo about a looming threat to which he responds, “I had been hoping she would say something else: giants, Titans, ancient killing machines, aliens.”
  • Magical creatures emerge from the woods to aid Apollo in his quest to stop the evil Emperor Nero. “The shimmering forms of dryads emerged from their trees—a legion of Daphne’s in green gossamer dresses . . . They raised their arms and the earth erupted at their feet.”

Spiritual Content

  • In this book, the Greek gods are real and have a presence in the world. All of the legends about them are true, and they are immortal. The main character is a god who has been turned mortal.
  • The source of the gods’ powers is their presence in the minds of humankind, and if they are forgotten they will eventually fade. “Gods know about fading. They know about being forgotten over the centuries. The idea of ceasing to exist altogether terrifies us.”
  • It is discussed how in ancient Greece, priests tended and cared for the sacred Grove of Dodona.
  • When the character of evil Emperor Nero is introduced, Christians are mentioned as being scapegoated by him. In response to these accusations, he says, “But the Christians were terrorists, you see. Perhaps they didn’t start the fire, but they were causing all sorts of trouble.” A terrifying event is then mentioned in which Nero had “strung up Christians all over his backyard and burned them to illuminate his garden party.”

by Morgan Filgas

 

League of Archers #1

Elinor Dray and her friends idolize Robin Hood. Calling themselves the League of Archers, they illegally hunt on Lord de Lay’s land. Although the game is scarce, the meat they obtain is used to feed their families and help the poor. One night, Ellie meets a man in the woods who has been shot with a poisoned arrow. When Ellie takes the man to the nunnery, Ellie discovers the man’s identity—Robin Hood. And the abbess of the nunnery is Maid Marian.

When Maid Marian’s secret is revealed, the Lord de Lay arrests Marian and blames Ellie for Robin Hood’s death. The villagers believe Ellie is a traitor to the poor and vow to hunt her down. Living as an outlaw, Ellie and the League of Archers attempt to clear Ellie’s name, free Maid Marian, and keep Robin Hood’s legacy alive.

Action-packed and full of battles, League of Archers has a strong female protagonist, who wants to do what is right. As Ellie fights to stay alive, she struggles with the need to hurt the baron’s guards in order to stay alive. Ellie truly cares about the needs of others and often wonders, What would Robin Hood do? Throughout the story, the hero Robin Hood is not portrayed as a perfect hero, but as a man who makes mistakes. Although many of his great deeds of legend are true, many of his deeds are exaggerated. However, it is clear that Robin Hood, flaws and all, is still a great man.

Despite the high-interest topic of the story, the plot is complicated and not necessarily believable. The character’s dialogue is not true to the time period, and the storyline is not historically accurate. Even though junior high readers may not pick up on all of the inaccuracies, some will question how a twelve-year-old girl was able to successfully use Robin Hood’s bow.

Friar Tuck, Maid Marian, and the League of Archers—all of them could have been interesting characters. However, none of them are developed into individual people. Ellie is the only character whose thoughts and feelings are shown, but her conflict lacks more specific details that would explain how she came to be a master archer who wants to be like Robin Hood. Ellie and the League of Archers go into battle after battle with grown guards and although the violence is not described in gory detail, there is blood, pain, and death. The many battles are what drives the suspense in the story and keep the reader interested in the outcome.

If a reader is wildly interested in the topic of Robin Hood, League of Archers will interest them. The fast-paced plot with many battles will entertain readers. Reluctant readers will want to leave this book on the shelf because the detailed descriptions are cumbersome and slow down the plot’s otherwise fast pace.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Ellie’s mother was caught poaching because they “needed to eat. But her mother was caught, dragged in ropes to the baron’s castle. The village was invited to watch as an executioner made Ellie an orphan at the baron’s command.”
  • Ellie witnesses Robin Hood being shot with an arrow. When it happens, “Ellie saw the bright red of the arrow’s fletching, and the way it pierced the stranger’s shoulder like a knife through meat. A bloom of dark blood spread across his cloak as he dropped to his knees.” The arrow was poisoned and, “the skin around it bubbled like fat atop a pot of soup.” Robin Hood dies from the wound.
  • The baron’s men enter the covenant in order to arrest the abbess. When the abbess resists, a novice is grabbed, and the baron’s guard, “pressed the flat of a knife to Ellie’s throat . . . The blade was cool against her skin.”
  • The baron parades Ellie around town, accusing her of killing Robin Hood. A riot begins, and Ellie tries to escape. When Ellie’s friend tries to defend her, a guard whips him. Later, when Ellie tries to defend herself, “the guard’s knife pierced the heavy blue dress, drawing a gasp from her as it cut into her skin. She felt a trickle of blood mingling with sweat in the small of her back.”
  • A mob of people throw rocks, mud, and horse dung at Ellie. In order to escape, Ellie grabs a guard’s wrist and “yanked the blade from his hand, then wheeled around and struck him with Robin’s bow, still clutched in her other fist. He fell sideways off the cart. . .” Ellie escapes.
  • While traveling, a friar is attacked by guards. The friar hits one guard on the head with a bottle. When three other guards appear, the friar fights back, but is wounded. In order to help, Ellie “pulled an arrow from her quiver and strung it on her bow. It flew straight and true and hit the guard in the eye before he could bring down his knife. He fell down dead. The fighting takes place over four pages. Another guard is injured when “Alice flung a knife that caught him between two ribs, then he fell.”
  • A group of drunk men tries to capture Ellie. The League of Archers helps Ellie. “Jacob yanked a pitchfork from one of the men and swung it like a scythe, forcing others to run clear. . .” A man grabs Ellie and “had wrapped an arm around her neck, squeezing until stars exploded in front of her eyes.” Ellie and the League are able to escape.
  • The gamekeeper shoots arrows at Ellie and the League of Archers. In order to save her friends, Ellie shoots the gamekeeper. “She swung the bow to the right and released the string. Her arrow slid neatly into the gamekeeper’s hand.”
  • A man grabs Ellie in order to take her into the village and hang her. “He grabbed her roughly by the shoulders and stood her up, facing the door.” The man also tied up Ellie’s friends. In order to escape, Ellie “took a breath and drove her head straight into his nose. He screamed and reeled backward, clutching his face. Blood spurted through his fingers.”
  • When trying to free one of the baron’s prisoners, the guards try to stop Ellie and the League of Archers. Someone hits a guard over the head with a club. Ellie shoots at a guard, and “one of her arrows found the meat of a man’s leg as he swung his sword at Marian’s exposed side. A second shaved a slice off a guard’s ear as he tried to hoist Alice over the side of the drawbridge. Then he dropped her, one hand lifting to feel the blood running down her face. She turned on him savagely with her knife.” In order to save her friends, Ellie lets “the arrow fly and watched as it slid into the heart of the guard lowering the gate.” The battle lasts over a chapter.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Several characters are given ale or wine to drink.
  • One of the characters makes “home-brewed liquor,” selling it to the villagers. He is often drunk.
  • Ellie and her friends go into a tavern. While there, “she watched a man slap a woman’s hip as she delivered his tankard, and another one crash down drunkenly from his chair.”
  • Ellie and the League of Archers come across a group of drunk men who are patrolling the forest.

Language

  • Someone uses “Oh, God” as an exclamation.

Supernatural

  • When talking about Robin’s silver arrow, which never missed its mark, the friar said, “I’m a religious man, so talk of magic doesn’t sit right with me. But there’s something about that arrow. There was never any questions it would find its way to where Robin intended.”
  • A woman tells Ellie her fortune by casting “a handful of dry brown bones.”

Spiritual Content

  • Several of the characters live in a convent and the life of a nun is described including going to prayer. Ellie also says the “compline prayer.”
  • The baron chastises Ellie. “‘God made us men in his image girl,’ he said. ‘You should show your betters a mite more respect.’”
  • A friar tells Ellie, “Whether he’s a saint or a sinner is not for us to say. . . We must trust in God to sort it out.”
  • One of the characters tells Ellie, “But there are some who, like you, would go to any lengths to save the abbess’s life—and I believe God is on their side. And justice, too.”
  • When a woman wants to tell Ellie her fortune, Ellie asks, “Is fortune-telling not a tool of the devil, Mother Barkbone?” The woman answers, “The devil and I walk different byways. . . I respect his power just as I respect that of God’s. But I worship the things I can see, the spirits who speak back to me. Those of the land, those of my ancestors. They guide me true and would never lead me into the devil’s mouth.”
  • Ellie tells someone who committed murder, “I forgive you. May God, too, have mercy on you.”

The Ember Stone

The powerful vulture, Thorn, is using dark magic to destroy Perodia. Tag, a small owl, and his best friend, Skyla, want to save their home. Tag hopes to join the Owls of Valor and become a brave warrior. Tag is small and inexperienced, but he is brave. When Tag and Skyla meet the last firehawk, the three begin a journey in search of the magical Ember Stone. Can the three friends find the stone and save Perodia?

Written for newly independent readers, The Ember Stone will appeal to adventure seekers. The story has many elements that will keep readers interested. The illustrations show emotion, and the tiger bats add danger and suspense to the story. Mystery is added when Tag and Skyla come across a magical golden egg. Onomatopoeias are scattered throughout the beginning of the story, which makes reading fun as well as adds to the threatening mood. Short sentence structure, dialogue, and simple vocabulary make The Ember Stone easy to read. Black-and-white illustrations appear on every page, which helps bring the story to life.

Tag is a brave little owl, who wants to help stop the dark magic from destroying his home. Although Tag is clearly the hero in the story, he finds the firehawk egg and a piece of the Ember stone by accident. Tag has the bravery to be a hero, but his actions lack intention. The hope that the newly hatched firehawk will learn to speak soon, and will then be able to “tell us what to do” is unrealistic.

The book begins with an introduction to help readers understand the conflict. A two-page map of Perodia gives a visual of the geography and location of important landmarks. The last page of the book contains four questions and an activity, which will reinforce important comprehension skills. Readers who love animals and a good adventure will enjoy The Ember Stone.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Tiger bats attack Tag and Skyla, who hide in a hollow tree trunk. “Clack, clack, clack. Tag and Skyla held their breath as the tiger bats’ beaks snapped above them.”
  • Later in the story, the tiger bats attack again. “Skyla fired a pinecone at its head. ‘Stay back!’ she shouted, hitting it between the eyes.” The battle lasts for several pages. The tiger bats leave when the firehawk appears and “there was a flash of light and heat. . . He heard the whoosh of many winds, then all was quiet.”
  • Prickle ants attack Tag, Skyla, and Blaze. “The three friends hopped along, trying to escape. But the prickle ants crawled up their legs, biting and stinging.” The friends jump in the water to escape.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Firehawks “were magical birds who protected the Ember stone—a stone that holds magic within.”
  • One of the owls, Grey, has yellow eyes that “sparkled with magic.” When Grey waves a wing, “an image appeared beside his head” showing Tag why going to the caves will be dangerous.
  • When a piece of the Ember Stone is placed on a map, “the map glowed, brighter and brighter. . . When Tag looked again, a small shining dot appeared on the map.” The magical map guides the friends to the next location to which they must travel.

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

The Battle of the Labyrinth

The inevitable fight with Kronos is still building, and this time Percy must travel with his friends into the depths of the ever-changing Labyrinth. No one knows who to trust, as Kronos continues to convert monsters, half-bloods, and demons to his side of the war. Percy finds himself battling monsters he has never seen, all while dealing with his confusing relationship with Annabeth and helping Grover finally track down the lost god Pan.

The setting is full of tension and excitement.  New characters arrive on the scene, adding intrigue and mystery. The ending will leave the reader gasping in surprise as they reach for the next book in the series.

Percy has finally reached high school, and begins to notice the opposite sex; however, there is no romantic relationship. There is a burgeoning physical attraction between him and Annabeth. The Battle of the Labyrinth is a little more mature, and the fight scenes become slightly more graphic. Despite this, the novel is appropriate for younger readers.

 Sexual Content

  • When Percy meets two empousai (monsters similar to vampires) they use their powers to charm him. One asks Percy for a kiss. He thinks, “She smelled like roses and clean animal fur–a weird but somehow intoxicating smell.”
  • Sea demons watch a video about puberty. “As a young sea demon matures, the narrator said, changes happen in the monster’s body. You may notice your fangs getting longer and you may have a sudden desire to devour human beings. These changes are perfectly normal.
  • Annabeth kisses Percy. “Annabeth glared at me like she was going to punch me. And then she did something that surprised me even more. She kissed me.”

Violence

  • An empousai attacks Percy and Rachel. “I slashed with Riptide. Tammi tried to dodge my blade, but I sliced straight through her cheerleader uniform, and with a horrible wail she exploded into dust all over Rachel.”
  • Percy meets flesh-eating horses. “Come inside! Eat you! Tasty half-blood! . . . Poseidon can come in, too! We will eat you both! Seafood!”
  • Percy fights a monster called Geryon. “I went on the attack. Geryon parried my first strike with a pair of red-hot tongs and lunged at my face with a barbecue fork. I got inside his next thrust and stabbed him right through the middle chest.”
  • Daedalus kills his nephew. “Somehow he managed to grab the rim of the tower with his fingers as he fell. ‘Uncle!’ He screamed. ‘Help me!’ The old man’s face was a mask. He did not move from his spot.”
  • Percy meets Antaus, who decorates his court with skulls. “They grinned from pikes at the back of the stands and hung on chains from the ceiling like horrible chandeliers. Some of them looked very old–nothing but bleached-white bone. Others looked a lot fresher. I’m not going to describe them. Believe me, you don’t want to know.”
  • Percy kills Antaus. “I stabbed the giant in the stomach. He bellowed, and sand poured out, but he was too far up to touch the earth, and the dirt did not rise to help him. Antaeus just dissolved, pouring out bit by bit, until there was nothing left.”
  • During a battle, Nico summons the dead to help him. “The earth trembled. A fissure opened in front of the dracaenae, and a dozen undead warriors crawled from the earth.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Half-bloods drink nectar when they are injured. The nectar heals and strengths them.

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Nico, son of Hades, summons the dead. ” ‘In my day, we used animal blood,’ the ghost mumbled . . . The grave started to bubble. Frothy brown liquid rose to the top like the whole thing was filling with soda . . . Nico had summoned the dead with Coke and cheeseburgers.”
  • Percy meets many monsters, such as giants, hundred-handed ones, and Kampe. “It was sort of like a centaur, with a woman’s body from the waist up. But instead of a horse’s lower body, it had the body of a dragon–at least twenty feet long, black and scaly with enormous claws and a barbed tail.”
  • Kronos possesses Luke’s body. “Luke sat bolt upright. His eyes opened, and they were no longer blue. They were golden, the same color as the coffin. The hole in his chest was gone. He was complete.”

Spiritual Content

  • Percy and his friends discuss how immortal gods and monsters can still die. “Even immortality has limits. Sometimes . . . sometimes monsters get forgotten and they lose their will to stay immortal.”
  • Daedalus, who has cheated death for two millennia, decides to pass on. ” ‘Whoa,’ I said. ‘Pass on? But you can’t just kill yourself. That’s wrong!’ He shook his head. ‘Not as wrong as hiding from my crimes for two thousand years . . . My time has come.’ “

 

 

The Last Olympian

Percy has reached sixteen, the age at which the Great Prophecy will be revealed. Percy can’t spend time worrying about what the prophecy means because Kronos has stepped out of the shadows and has declared war against Olympus. It will take all the Olympians and demigods that Percy can muster to stop Kronos, and that might not even be enough.

The Last Olympian’s content grows with Percy, who must deal with death and war. The entire second half of the book spans a series of battles that take place in New York City. This is by far the most action-packed book in the series. While a couple of deaths are intense, the majority are monsters simply disintegrated into dust and the war is not graphically described.

Sexual Content

  • Rachel hints that she wants Percy to kiss her. Rachel says, “And so . . . hypothetically, if these two people liked each other, what would it take to get the stupid guy to kiss the girl, huh?”
  • Percy thinks about how demigods aren’t related to the children of other gods. “A demigod would never think about dating someone who had the same godly parent . . . But a daughter of Aphrodite and a son of Hephaestus? They’re not related. So it’s no problem.”
  • Annabeth kisses Percy. “Then she laughed for real, and she put her hands around my neck . . . When she kissed me, I had the feeling my brain was melting right through my body.”

Violence

  • Percy kills a giant crab monster. “I jabbed Riptide into the chink in its armor . . . The monster shuddered and hissed. Its eyes dissolved. Its shell turned bright red as its insides evaporated.”
  • Percy and Beckendorf blow up an enemy ship, but Beckendorf doesn’t make it out. “The Princess Andromeda blew up from both sides, a massive fireball of green flame roiling into the dark sky, consuming everything. Beckendorf, I thought. Then I blacked out.”
  • Percy gets frustrated with a stubborn satyr. “I grabbed him by the shirt, which seriously wasn’t like me, but the stupid old goat was making me mad.”
  • Percy fights an army of the dead. “There was nothing left of them but weapons in the sand and piles of smoking, empty uniforms. I had destroyed them all . . . I looked down at my clothes. They were slashed to pieces and full of bullet holes, but I was fine. Not a mark on me.”
  • Conner thinks about looting a candy store when everyone in New York City is asleep.
  • Luke destroys Kronos by killing himself. “He stabbed himself. It wasn’t a deep cut, but Luke howled. His eyes glowed like lava. The throne room shook.”
  • The last half of this book is a giant war that takes place in New York City. There is a lot of violence and some deaths, but most of it is not graphically described.
  • “An entire phalanx of dracaenae marched in the lead, their shields locked together, spear tips bristling over the top. An occasional arrow would connect with their snaky trunks, or a neck, or a chink in their armor, and the unlucky snake woman would disintegrate.”
  • “I tossed [the Minotaur] over the side of the bridge. Even as he fell, he was disintegrating.”
  • “Annabeth and I raced from block to block, trying to shore up our defenses. Too many of our friends lay wounded in the streets. Too many were missing.”
  • “Her features, once beautiful, were badly burned from poison. I could tell that no amount of nectar or ambrosia would save her.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Percy says “Oh, gods” once or twice.

Supernatural

  • The Oracle gives prophecies about the future that always come true.
  • Percy rides on a hellhound, who can travel through shadows.
  • Luke’s mother sees horrible visions of the future. “My child . . . Must protect him! Hermes, help! Not my child! Not his fate – no!”
  • Morpheus puts the city of New York to sleep.
  • Percy is dipped in the River Styx and becomes invincible.
  • Kronos resides in Luke’s body because Kronos has no form of his own.
  • Percy is a half-blood, the son of Poseidon. The Greek gods, monsters, and most things from the old Greek tales are all true.

Spiritual Content

  • Percy feels guilty for the deaths of the demigods who were killed when he blew up the enemy ship. Poseidon tells Percy, “They all chose to battle for Kronos . . . they chose their path.”

by Morgan Lynn

The Lightning Thief

Percy’s life consists of him being moved from boarding school, to military school, to private school. Pretty much any school that will take him. Because no matter where he goes, or how good he tries to be, something always goes wrong.

At the end of sixth grade, Percy figures out why is life has always been so difficult. He is the son of the Greek god Poseidon, which makes him a half-blood. A demi-god. Monsters are attracted to him. To protect himself, Percy goes to Camp Half-blood, where he learns sword fighting, archery, and a myriad of other skills that he will need to survive. He soon learns that his father is on the brink of war with Zeus and that he may be the only one who can stop it. The Lightning Thief is an enjoyable adventure that will keep readers engaged. There is a lot of fighting with monsters, but asides from that this book is friendly to younger readers.

Sexual Content

  • Dionysus is on probation because he, “took a fancy to a wood nymph who had been declared off-limits.”

Violence

  • Percy is taught in class how Kronos ate his children “And later, when Zeus grew up, he tricked his dad, Kronos, into barfing up his brothers and sisters.”
  • It turns out Percy’s teacher is a monster in disguise. “She snarled, ‘Die, honey!’ And she flew right at me . . . I did the only thing that came naturally: I swung the sword. The metal blade hit her shoulder and passed clean through her body as if she were made of water. Hisss!”
  • Percy is in a car crash. “There was a blinding flash, a jaw-rattling boom!, and our car exploded. I remember feeling weightless, like I was being crushed, fried and hosed down all at the same time.”
  • Percy loses his mother. “Then, with an angry roar, the monster closed his fists around my mother’s neck, and she dissolved before my eyes, melting into light, a shimmering golden form . . . A blinding flash, and she was simply . . . gone.”
  • Furies attack Percy. “I turned and sliced the Fury on the right. As soon as the blade connected with her neck, she screamed and exploded into dust.”
  • Percy kills Medusa. “I slashed up with my sword, heard a sickening shlock!, then a hiss like wind rushing out of a cavern – the sound of a monster disintegrating . . . I could feel warm ooze soaking into my sock.”
  • A Chimera attacks Percy. “Before I could swing my sword, it opened its mouth, emitting a stench like the world’s largest barbecue pit, and shot a column of flame straight at me. I dove through the explosion. The carpet burst into flames; the heat was so intense, it nearly seared off my eyebrows.”
  • Percy kills a monster. “The ropes readjusted themselves at my command. Crusty’s whole head struck out the top. His feet stuck out the bottom . . . I had no qualms about what I was about to do . . . I swung the sword. Crusty stopped making offers.”
  • Percy goes to the Underworld. “Even from far away, I could see people being chased by hellhounds, burned at the stake, forced to run naked through cactus patches or listen to opera music. I could just make out a tiny hill, with the ant-size figure of Sisyphus struggling to move his boulder to the top. And I saw worse tortures, too – things I don’t want to describe.”
  • Percy kills a wild boar in self-defense. “I slashed upward. The boar’s severed right tusk fell at my feet, while the disoriented animal charged into the sea . . . a wave surged up from nowhere and engulfed the boar, wrapping around it like a blanket. The beast squealed once in terror. Then it was gone, swallowed by the sea.”
  • Percy’s mother turns her abusive husband to stone with Medusa’s head.

Drugs and Alcohol

  • The director of Camp Half-Blood is Dionysus, the god of wine. “He waved his hand and a goblet appeared . . . The goblet filled itself with red wine.”

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Percy Jackson is a demi-god, the son of Poseidon. He goes to Camp Half-Blood, where there are demi-gods, satyrs, nymphs, a centaur, and even a minor god. All the monsters of Greek mythology are real too.

 

Spiritual Content

  • Percy and Chiron discuss the existence of the Greek gods. Percy said, “You’re telling me there’s such a thing as God.” Chiron replies, “God – capital G, God. That’s a different matter altogether. We shan’t deal with the metaphysical . . . gods, plural, as in, great beings that control the forces of nature and human endeavors: the immortal gods of Olympus. That’s a smaller matter.”
  • Percy visits the Underworld, ruled by Hades.
  • After every meal at camp, “everyone was taking a portion of their meal and dropping it into the fire, the ripest strawberry, the juiciest slice of beef, the warmest, most buttery roll . . . Burnt offerings for the gods.”

The Sea of Monsters

Percy is a year older, but much remains the same. Once again, Percy is expelled from school when attacked by monsters, and he must flee to Camp Half-Blood. But Camp Half-Blood is not the safe haven Percy was looking for. The camp’s magical boundaries are dying, and soon Percy is on another quest. Joined by Annabeth and his new half-brother Tyson, Percy traverses the Sea of Monsters to both rescue Grover and save the future of Camp Half-Blood.

A wonderfully engaging story, Percy takes readers on an epic journey of strength and heroism. The reader will learn about acceptance alongside Percy because one of the themes is not to judge someone based on his or her looks.  The Sea of Monsters has many, well, monsters. As a result, there is much fighting, but the violence is not portrayed in a bloody manner.

Sexual Content

  • When they win a race, “Annabeth planted a kiss on [Percy’s] cheek.”

Violence

  • Percy plays dodgeball with cannibals. One cannibal says, “We Laistrygonians aren’t just playing for your death. We want lunch!” Then the cannibal “waved his hand and a new batch of dodgeballs appeared on the center line . . . They were bronze, the size of cannon balls, perforated like wiffle balls with fire bubbling out the holes.”
  • Annabeth kills one of the cannibals. “Suddenly the giant’s body went rigid. His expression changed from gloating to surprise. Right where his belly button should’ve been, his T-shirt ripped open and he grew something like a horn—no, not a horn—the glowing tip of a blade.”
  • Tantalus tells the story of why he was punished. “No one noticed that his children were missing. And when he served the gods dinner, my dear campers, can you guess what was in the stew?”
  • Percy is attacked by a Hydra. “There was a flash of light, a column of smoke, and the Hydra exploded right in front of us, showering us with nasty green slime that vaporized as soon as it hit, the way monster guts tend to do.”
  • Percy’s boat explodes. “I spun in the air, got clonked on the head by something hard, and hit the water with a crash . . . The last thing I remembered was sinking in a burning sea, knowing that Tyson was gone forever, and wishing I were able to drown.”
  • Percy runs into piranha sheep. “The deer stumbled and was lost in a sea of wool and trampling hooves. Grass and tufts of fur flew into the air. A second later, the sheep all moved away, back to their regular peaceful wanderings. Where the deer had been was a pile of clean white bones.”
  • Percy and Clarisse fight the Cyclops. “She charged the Cyclops again and again. He pounded the ground, stomped at her, grabbed at her, but she was too quick. And as soon as she made an attack, I followed up by stabbing the monster in the toe or the ankle or the hand.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Percy drinks a potion that turns him into a guinea pig.

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Percy is a half-blood, the son of Poseidon. The Greek gods, monsters, and most things from the old Greek tales are all true.

Spiritual Content

  • None

by Morgan Lynn

The Titan’s Curse

Percy, Annabeth, and Thalia are working together to save a pair of half-bloods from the monster who kidnapped them. But when Annabeth is lost, Percy will stop at nothing to save her. Meanwhile, Kronos bides his time, forever scheming to take over the world. His General has escaped eternal punishment and is amassing an army to take down Olympus.  A prophecy tells of a quest to stop the upcoming terror, and Percy joins despite not being chosen to go. Soon he is traveling across the country with Thalia and three of Artemis’ Hunters on a journey to save Annabeth, a goddess, and the world itself.

This installment of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is riveting and full of suspense. As Percy grows he comes into his own as a powerful son of Poseidon. New characters keep this book fresh, while the constant action keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Aside from the frequent, non-graphic violence, there is little in this book that would exclude younger readers.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • When Apollo’s sun bus crashes into a lake, “steam billowed up . . . ‘Well,’ said Apollo with a brave smile . . . ‘Let’s go see if we boiled anyone important, shall we?'”
  • Thalia and Percy get into a fight. “Thalia pushed me, and a shock went through my body that blew me backward ten feet into the water . . . Anger roared in my ears. A wave erupted from the creek, blasting into Thalia’s face and dousing her from head to toe . . . Thalia yelled, and a blast of lightning came down from the sky, hit her spear like a lightning rod, and slammed into my chest.”
  • Percy fights a lion with his friends. “Immediately, arrows pierced the lion’s maw—two, four, six. The lion thrashed wildly, turned, and fell backward. And then it was still.”
  • Percy fights skeleton creatures. “I thought I was doing pretty well, until the other two skeletons shot me in the back . . . I landed face down in the street. Then I realized something . . . I wasn’t dead. The impact of the bullets had been dull, like a push from behind, but they hadn’t hurt me.”
  • Bianca climbs into a giant robot to stop it from killing her and her friends. When Bianca stops the robot, it collapses, and Bianca “was gone.” Bianca’s friends assumed she died.
  • Dionysus, the god of wine, saves Percy from a manticore (a flying monster) and skeletons. “SNAP! It was the sound of many minds breaking at the same time. The sound of madness. One guard put his pistol between his teeth like it was a bone and ran around on all fours . . . the planks under his paws erupted into grape wines, which immediately began wrapping around the monster’s body . . . until he was engulfed in a huge mass of vines, leaves, and full clusters of purple grapes. Finally the grapes stopped shivering, and I had the feeling that somewhere inside there, the manticore was no more.”
  • Zoe is wounded in a fight. “She leaped between her father and Artemis and shot an arrow straight into the Titan’s forehead, where it lodged like a unicorn’s horn. Atlas bellowed in rage. He swept aside his daughter with the back of his hand, sending her flying into the black rocks.”
  • Luke is mortally wounded. “Talia kicked Luke away. He lost his balance, terror on his face, and then he fell . . . We rushed to the cliff’s edge . . . They were staring at Luke’s broken form on the rocks.”
  • The Olympians debate whether to smite Percy and his friends. Poseidon says, “They are worthy heroes. We will not blast my son to bits.”
  • While fighting a monster, Percy is injured. “My coat and shirt were pinned to the wall by some kind of spike—a black dagger-like projectile about a foot long. It had grazed the skin of my shoulder as it passed through my clothes, and the cut burned. I’d felt something like this before. Poison.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Thalia’s mother died. Someone explains her death: “heavy drinker, and apparently she was out driving late one night about two years ago, and . . . “
  • Dionysus mentions wine several times and procures it once or twice. “He glanced up innocently from the pages of Wine Connoisseur He said, ‘Ah, pinot noir is making a comeback.'”

Language

  • Percy and his friends visit Hoover Dam and start making jokes about “the dam snack bar” and “some dam French fries” and “the dam restroom.”

Supernatural

  • The ancient Greek gods, heroes, and monsters are all real.
  • Bianca pledges herself to Artemis, and when she becomes one of Artemis’ maidens, she is granted immortality.
  • Zeus brings a pair of angel statues to life, so they can help his daughter.

Spiritual Content

  • After a battle, Artemis thinks the monsters are stirring. She says, “Let us pray I am wrong.” Percy asks, “Can goddesses pray?”

by Morgan Lynn

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