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message 1: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (whitepicketfence) | 100 comments My son's class has just started reading "The Lightening Thief" so I did a quick review on CommonSenseMedia.org and got some red flags in their review below.

"Parents need to know that the premise of the story is that Greek gods have affairs with mortal women and the resulting children are demigods. You'll find fantasy violence including swordplay and monsters. Percy's mom is apparently killed in front of him and his stepfather, who drinks to excess, used to hit his mother. There's also a trip to the afterlife, ruled by Hades, with its entrance in Hollywood."

My son's class just started reading this and my son is enjoying it so far, but it sounds inappropriate to me. Before I jump to conclusions and do something drastic like pull him out of class on the second week of school, can anyone who has read it give me their opinion on the appropriateness of this book as a read aloud in elementary school?


message 2: by Melissa (last edited Sep 03, 2010 12:02PM) (new)

Melissa (mejojac) | 50 comments Well, demigods are created by gods having affairs with mortals, that's basic Greek mythology - but there are NO details about that relationship - except that you know that that is how a demigod is created - one mortal parent, one god.
There is fantasy violence, but I wouldn't say it was extreme or graphic. Let's see... Percy's mom disappears and does end up in the underworld and he does believe her to be dead, but it is not a gruesome gory death. If I remember right, she turns into a cloud of gold dust.
His step dad is a drunk who does abuse his mom, but it doesn't detail that out either. It's something Percy figures out on his own - not something he witnesses. And yes, there's a trip to visit Hades.
I don't know... maybe I'm not very strict, but these books didn't bother me and my son read all of them. My son's class read it out loud last year and I didn't have a problem with it - he was in 5th grade.
I don't know if that was helpful to you or not.... maybe you could read it and see what you think? We liked the series... but we hated the movie! They threw a lot of crud in there that wasn't in the book...


message 3: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (emarsh13) I actually find fault in that review. The premise of the story is greek mythology, watered down for a younger audience. Yes, the gods had affairs with mortals, but to call that the premise of the story is like saying that adultery is the premise of the Bible. It's there, but it's also minute, and it's not the main point.

How old is your son? If he's in the upper grades in elementary school, this may just be an introduction to the greek mythology unit, and if that's the case, it's an excellent intro. I learned a lot, and remembered more, and really appreciated how accessible and clean Riordan made the myths. (Let's face it, the Greeks in general were pretty R rated!) I would certainly yank him out of class if he's in first or second grade, though ... too violent in my opinion!

I'd voice this better, but my two year old is trying to do my hair. Do you know how distracting that is?!?!


message 4: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (whitepicketfence) | 100 comments Thank you Melissa and Elizabeth; both helpful comments. What is your take on this review?

"...too much discussion on infidelity of married people and affairs resulting in babies being conceived, ... too mature a topic for readers aged 9-12. ...upset about the abusive stepfather and felt it was unnecessary."

It might help you to know my "strict" meter, by letting you know that I opted out of reading the Harry Potter series.


message 5: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (emarsh13) I think you should read it yourself to see. The stepfather was never seen acting out, again, Percy just reasoned it out. I felt like the discussion was minimal, to be honest ... just enough to explain the mythology and no more.

If you look for the reviews that will lambast the book, you'll only find bad. Again, if this is a precursor to a unit they'll be studying in school, I think it's a really good way of introducing Greek mythology to a younger set. I remember being so confused and bewildered studying the mythology in (I think) fifth grade, something like this would have made it more accessible.


message 6: by Marla (new)

 Marla | 45 comments I think Percy Jackson is an excellent series, but I am also a great fan of Harry Potter, so long as the readers are older as the series progresses. (I don't think the first book and last book are written to the same audience...Harry grows up...and things change.)

Greek mythology is quite racy, but Riordan skims over most of that part and sticks to the monsters and heroes. I think it is difficult to find series that appeal to boys and girls, but I recommend this to my 5th-8th grader library students all the time...at a conservative Catholic school.

The stepdad is not a nice character, but he embodied the evil in humanity, just like the bad demigods were the villains. I am always more upset when a "good guy" turns evil or betrays people's trust. And by contrast love it when an evil character finds a conscience.

A great series to get children reading, especially boys. Love it almost as much as Ranger's Apprentice series by Riordan.


message 7: by MaryBliss (new)

MaryBliss | 59 comments I second Elizabeth's recommendation that you spend an evening (after the house is quiet) reading it yourself. It is not a terribly long book and you can find out for yourself whether or not it meets your criteria.

I found it less violent than Harry Potter and the references to children being born to gods and mortals affected me no more than it did when I was 9 and read Greek myths from the library. As I recall, it was simply stated as background material and not dwelt upon.

That said, Riorden is obviously writing with a 21st century adventure film mentality and as a result, much of the grace and flow of classic Greek mythology is lost. You might enjoy finding some good books of Greek myths in the children's section of your library to read aloud with your son and other chidren in your home. Your boy will enjoy finding connections between those and what he's hearing at school and it will open some nice opportunities for conversation with him about them.


message 8: by Lanetta (new)

Lanetta | 34 comments I have never found harry potter to be bad and would love for someone to explain how harry potter is "unclean". With that said if you don't do harry potter I really don't seeing you doing the lightning thief. Of course the best way to judge is by reading the book yourself anf if you do pull your child out have a list of specific reasons you have a problem with the book.


message 9: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (whitepicketfence) | 100 comments Oh my! I'm awfully sorry--I didn't mean to be offensive or judgmental or cause defensiveness (I know we all have different filters, because we are different people). I was merely seeking guidance because I didn't have time to read the book before class on Monday, and I thought this would be a good resource for that. Maybe I had better put my strict little tail between my legs and close this thread. Thank you for all of your thoughts, they have been of some help.


message 10: by joy (new)

joy *the clean-reader extraordinaire* (joytotheworld) | 98 comments Lanetta wrote: "I have never found harry potter to be bad and would love for someone to explain how harry potter is "unclean"." well -- harry definitely doesn't bathe as often as i'd like... wasn't it like once in the whole series?? i, for one, think that's a completely unacceptable level of cleanliness!

rachel --
how old is your son? if we're talking 4th or 5th grade, i don't think it would be a problem as far as the concept of demigod. there is some fantasy style violence, but certainly not much. it is far less violent and dark than HP1, for example. more comic book style.

and don't apologize. anyone who takes a little time will realize that you simply have a different sensitivity level than most of us (even here in cleanreads!). IMO, you don't express that in an offensive or judgmental way at all. it is other people's responsibility not to do an automatic defensive reaction in the face of differences respectfully expressed.


message 11: by Beth A. (new)

Beth A. (bethalm) | 67 comments LOL Joy! Loved the Harry Potter not bathing thing...


message 12: by Emily (last edited Sep 06, 2010 09:09AM) (new)

Emily Eastman | 9 comments My little brother read that book when he was 8 or 9. It's very watered down. My brother has read that series and loves it. He never noticed anything bad at all and he will tell everyone in our family (literally) if he notices something bad in his books. Well actually all he ever said was bad is that Hades had dogs call H-word hounds. Children will not pick out anytihng commonsensemedia.org told you they will. If it descriptively went into any of those things then yes they would but my brother still doesn't understand the whole Gods and Mortals thing he thinks Pery's parents were married before Poisedon had to leave. Again very watered down all kids will really remember is that Percy is a demi-god and goes on this little quest. I sa you should read the book yourself to make sure it fits your standards and if you don't have enough time to do that talk to the teacher about the things you saw on commonsensemedia.org and I'm sure she'd be glad to put her two cents in. I hope that helps.


message 13: by Helen (new)

Helen | 2 comments I don't remember anything "unclean" about the Harry Potter series either (although I'm sure there are a few minor things). In fact, the books and the movies have provided some of my deepest spiritual experiences associated with fiction/cinema. Whether J.K. Rowling sees it or not (writers are often ignorantly working under the guidance of the Spirit) Dumbledore is symbolic of God and his perfect love for us. Dumbledore, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, McGonagall, and even Snape make sacrifices that can only be seen as Christlike in nature when viewed through the lense of the gospel. No one can do the things they did without being motivated by love.

That having been said, I did find the regular focus on revenge--even with the "good guys" troubling. The books bring this element out far more than the movies do, however.

In defense of Rachel, she's right when she says we all have different levels of sensitivity. My sister-in-law is extremely sensitive to visual stimuli (and easily terrified by many things in movies), and has, therefore, never seen any of the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies--some of the best cinema ever made in my humble opinion. But she would have found them intolerable.


message 14: by Becca (new)

Becca | 24 comments The HP's definitely had a darker feel to them as you got further into the series and I think that's because Harry grew up and finally started to understand what was happening around him. Voldemort came into the picture as an actual being rather than a presence around book four and he's a scary guy. Also people started to die in the series. Seen from a child's perspective when people who you love (even fictionally speaking) die, it can take you to a very dark place and I think that's what people mean when they say HP got had a darker feel as you got further in.

I for one will not be letting my children read the HP series until they are emotionally able to cope with death in a very real way. Then they'll be ready for it in the pages of their books and we can have some great teaching moments. And don't get me wrong, I loved HP more than I love most book series, but kids need to mature a little before they get into the darker themes brought out in those books, particularly death and revenge.

As for Percy Jackson, when I read it, those things brought up in the reviews were not what stood out to me. I didn't really even make the connection about affairs until I saw this thread (there's a duh! moment for you). However, I can say that what did stand out was the readability of the myths. And for my part, being obsessed with Greek mythology, I really enjoyed Riordan's rendition of them. I agree with others that you really should read it for yourself, but that the concerns brought up by the reviews were rather minor when it came to the actual book.


message 15: by Lanetta (new)

Lanetta | 34 comments I am sorry if I gave off a bad vibe. I really just wanted to understand, thank you for the comments about HP. I think I understand better now. I have no children and if I did I would probley view things in a whole different light. I do work in the children's section of the library and therefore I try to read and think about age apporateness (i can't spell), but it can be really hard when I see what some of the kids are reading at their age. It has really helped to read the comments in this group, so I can know what to recommend to the christain mothers and children.


message 16: by Marla (new)

 Marla | 45 comments Beth A. wrote: "LOL Joy! Loved the Harry Potter not bathing thing..."

For the record...the bathing scene in the Goblet of Fire movie made me uncomfortable. I don't care if Myrtle is a ghost, she shouldn't be hanging around when Harry's bathing. Don't remember how that was in the book...

No one need apologize for being defensive or having a different opinion. We gather here to exchange our suggestions and opinions.

For the record, I just said I was a Harry Potter fan, so people could use that as a barometer for my comments.


message 17: by Rachel (new)

Rachel (whitepicketfence) | 100 comments Thank you all. The Harry Potter decision, for me, sailed years ago, but your help in this latest concern has been valuable and appreciated. In lieu of all of your comments we have decided to continue with the class reading of The Lightening Thief, supplemented with some other helpful suggestions. And yes, as suggested, I will read the book myself, if my son is interested in pursuing the series.

As always, thank you Joy for lightening things up and helping us all not to take ourselves too seriously.

Our differences are our strength!


message 18: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Davis (keamymayloken) @Marla know what you mean..but she's dead so it don't matter to me.
The worst one was Ron in the 5th book I think "Can I look at Uranus to Lavendar?"


message 19: by Amanda (new)

Amanda  Murphy | 5 comments Rachel, I have read this whole series with my kids (8-12) and really enjoyed it. I didn't mind Harry Potter, but this series took some comfort level adjustment for me. The only reason for that was that being a very religious person I had to think through the whole Greek God thing to decide how I felt about it. I do agree that if you didn't do HP, you might like LT so much.


message 20: by Christine (last edited Sep 13, 2010 03:09PM) (new)

Christine One thing I look at when I evaluate books is whether the undesirable behaviors have consequences or are glamorized. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo also deals with alcoholism in families. But it clearly demonstrates the devastating effects of that behavior. Depending on the age of the child, this awareness of the world outside of the ideal you have in your home can be a good thing. At the least, it will help them understand why we discourage certain behaviors and activities. It can help us understand the plight of others.

I too use commonsensemedia.org to screen books, but their criteria is absolute and can flag many extremely worthwhile books as questionable. I think sometimes they are a little off on their age recommendations, like with The Underneath by Kathi Appelt . They have it as iffy for 10 yr old, which it probably is. It is a Middle School book 12+.


message 21: by Mary (new)

Mary | 26 comments I agree with Christine regarding the consequences of behavior being relevant in how it is treated in the book. Kids today are often quick to copy-cat undesirable behavior if they think they can get away with it and especially if it is glamorized in the story.
Mary


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