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The Lightning Thief

Last updated Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Author: Rick Riordan
Date of Publication: 2005
ISBN: 064172344X
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2010

Synopsis: An adventure-quest with a hip edge. At first glance, Perseus Jackson seems like a loser (readers meet him at a boarding school for troubled youth), but he's really the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman. As he discovers his heritage, he also loses that mother and falls into mortal danger. The gods (still very active in the 21st-century world) are about to go to war over a lost thunderbolt, so Percy and sidekicks Grover (a young satyr) and Annabeth (daughter of Athena) set out to retrieve it. Many close calls and monster-attacks later, they enter Hades's realm (via L.A.). A virtuoso description of the Underworld is matched by a later account of Olympus (hovering 600 floors above Manhattan). There's lots of zippy review of Greek myth and legend, and characters like Medusa, Procrustes, Charon, and the Eumenides get updates. Some of the Labors of Heracles or Odysseus's adventures are recycled, but nothing seems stale, and the breakneck pace keeps the action from being too predictable. Percy is an ADHD, wise-cracking, first-person narrator. Naturally, his real quest is for his own identity. Along the way, such topics as family, trust, war, the environment, dreams, and perceptions are raised. There is subtle social critique for sophisticated readers who can see it. Although the novel ends with a satisfying conclusion (and at least one surprise), it is clear that the story isn't over. The 12-year-old has matured and is ready for another quest, and the villain is at large. Readers will be eager to follow the young protagonist's next move.–Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Note to readers:
•  Feel free to read the entire time you are with your group. This book is very suspenseful and if the kids are into it, you may continue to read the entire 1 1/2 hours.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Where is this person? Is it a boy or a girl?
•  What is he holding?
•  What do you think the story is all about?
•  Has anyone read this book?
•  Has anyone seen this movie?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What is a "half-blood?"
•  Does anyone think they are a "half-blood?"
•  Where is Manhattan?
•  What is a "Kleptomaniac?" (someone who steals things)
•  Have you ever been bullied?
•  What is Dyslexia? (a learning disability where someone has difficulty reading.)
•  What is a marble frieze?
•  What would you do if you were Percy?

Craft ideas:
•  Word Search Puzzle (included with craft sheets)
•  Make a Medusa Head Band (create a head band with construction paper, use pipe cleaner or draw snakes on paper, cut them out and glue or staple onto band.
•  Create a Greek God Mask or drawing based on the description of that god. (list of Greek Gods on back of craft sheet.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!