Parents need to know that Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes” is a hefty gift-size volume that profiles 12 heroes, as narrated by Percy Jackson from the bestselling series. As in the companion book “Greek Gods,” Percy’s wit helps smooth things over when the content gets more mature.
These heroes are not flawless mortals — far from it. The body count is high, and heads and body parts are hacked off. (Worst: Daughters are tricked into hacking up their own father.) There’s plenty of talk of gods and mortals having affairs without much detail and a big “gross-out” alert from Percy about Pasiphae’s affair with a bull (Aphrodite tricked her into it, of course). There’s some drunkenness that often leads to fighting and killing with later regret.
Parents should definitely read along with kids for a great refresher on all these legendary characters. You can talk about the hard lessons the heroes learn along the way, as well as each hero’s fatal flaw and how it often leads to his or her undoing.
Demigod Percy Jackson offers up the stories of 12 heroes: Perseus, Psyche, Phaethon, Otrera, Daedalus, Theseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, Cyrene, Orpheus, Hercules and Jason. He relays the deeds these characters are still famous for today — slaying the Minotaur, playing a mean lyre, founding the Amazons, retrieving the Golden Fleece, and more — and, in equal measure, shows where they went wrong. Or, as Percy puts it in the introduction, how they “boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before.”
Most stories in “Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes” end in tragedy, but not all. At the end of Psyche’s story, Percy marvels at the happy ending but promises the next hero he talks about — Phaethon — is a “total car wreck of a demigod.” Sure enough.
If it’s possible, this giant, brilliantly illustrated volume is even more absorbing than Percy’s take on Greek gods. Like “Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods,” we get the warts-and-all portraits, and there are plenty of warts. Who recalled Hercules had such an anger-management problem? Or that the brilliant inventor Daedalus had such a horrible jealous streak? Author Rick Riordan takes pains to include some fascinating women in the mix, as well — no doubt they were harder to research than the men, and the extra effort is appreciated. Atalanta and Otrera are especially fascinating extreme Wonder Women who no man dared mess with.
Two maps included help orient the reader quite well in ancient times. And Percy’s modern sardonic-teen voice keeps readers laughing and the pages turning, especially when the character names get unpronounceable and the subject matter gets either too gross or too grim. This is a great book for parents to enjoy right along with kids.