After seeing a recommendation for The Lightning Thief by Dawn from By Sun and Candlelight, I was intrigued. Greek mythology set in modern times? hmmmmmmmm.
The first paragraph (or two) really pulls the reader into the story:
"Look, I didn't want to be a half-blood.
"If you're reading this because you think you might be one, my advice is: close this book right now. Believe whatever lie your mom or dad told you about your birth, and try to lead a normal life.
"Being a half-blood is dangerous. It's scary. Most of the time, it gets you killed in painful, nasty ways.
"If you're a normal kid, reading this because you think it's fiction, great. Read on. I envy you for being able to believe that none of this ever happened.
"But if you recognize yourself in these pages -- if you feel something stirring inside -- stop reading immediately. You might be one of us. And once you know that, it's only a matter of time before they sense it too, and they'll come for you.
Don't say I didn't warn you."
And with that, we plunged into the fascinating series of Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
There are several reasons why I have enjoyed this series: First, the main characters are really decent kids -- no backtalk, no outrageous disobedience. With the exception of one glaring example at the end of book 1 (by Percy's mom) the characters behave exceptionally well. I didn't get "the end justifies the means" feeling that I got when reading Harry Potter (which I have NOT read to my children.)
Second, the author does a wonderful job of really making the Greek gods, goddesses, monsters, villians, and heroes stick in the minds of the readers. My children will NEVER be able to forget Tantalus (punished by the gods in Greek mythology) thanks to the hilarious way Rick Riordan paints him in this story.
Third, it has been a series that has captured EVERYONE'S attention. Even Marie, my 2-yr old, now knows a few of the characters in the Greek myths.
Fourth, it tied in EXTREMELY well with our study of constellations, and made the kids *want* to remember them. It also tied in with several of our Latin grammar chapters... Go figure.
Finally, it gave them a chance to hear a story of monsters and heroes that was *safe*. By that I mean that the monsters had the potential of being just scary enough to make the story interesting, but not enough to give them nightmares, or make them afraid to walk down the hall in the dark. They were able to hear the story, confront the "bad guys," and see it all turn out victorious in the end.