Free Reading Friday: The Trials of Apollo, the Dark Prophecy

Trials of ApolloMy son became obsessed with Greek mythology in second grade. I’m not sure exactly what sparked it, but I think they did a short mythology unit in class. That combined with the copy of Terry Deary’s The Groovy Greeks (part of his Horrible History series) I gave him sparked an interest that is still thriving three years later. He actually loved the Groovy Greeks and Deary’s Top Ten Greek Legends so much that he’s read each of them a few dozen times.

He also loved them so much that I knew we had to get more books about Greek myths for him. My husband bought him a copy of D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, which he loved when he was a child. Each night before bed they read them together. Once they finished the book, my son took over and started rereading all of the tales himself. I had to find more.

Although I’d never read any of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, I’d been a teacher long enough to know that my students loved them. My kids RAVE about Percy Jackson and his adventures. They love Percy so much that even mentioning the movies made of the books send them into fits of rage because the movies “ruined” the books. I’ve actually had kids so passionate in their rants about how the movies destroyed these beloved books that I had to ask them to calm down, take a few breaths and have a seat before letting them talk again.

Many of my students read the books in elementary school, so I went to our local library and got a copy for my son. In hindsight it was a bit reckless of me. I keep a pretty tight watch on what my kids read/watch/listen to as I try to walk the dangerous tightrope of keeping them too protected and letting them grow up too fast. I only just allowed my son to read the 4th Harry Potter book (despite my undying love for them) because he’s a pretty sensitive kid and I was not sure how well he’d handle how dark the books get.*

But for some reason, I just handed over the Percy Jackson books without so much as a nod. It wasn’t until a few of my students expressed surprise that I was letting him read them so young that I also checked out a copy and started reading. That’s right, he was on the last book of the series when I was on the first. Granted by the time he got to book 5 he was almost done with second grade, but he was still only barely 8.

Like my son, I fell in LOVE with the series. While I thought in hindsight I should have probably made him wait a little longer, I was glad we had them to talk about. I immediately launched into the Heroes of Olympus series and part way through the book realized my son would need to be a bit older to read them.**

When I finished that series I devoured the Kane Chronicles, which I liked, but not quite as much and which I did let my son read in third grade.

I was thrilled that just as I’d finished all of his other books Magnas Chase: The Sword of Summer came out. I don’t know much about the Norse gods, so I was very excited for this series. And I do love it. It actually might be my favorite series so far. I am really excited the next book will be out in early October.

To tide me over though, I started his latest series, The Trials of Apollo, which he is writing concurrently with Magnas Chase (that man is talented). The latest book in his Apollo series is The Dark Prophesy.

I may not love Apollo quite as much as I love Percy Jackson or Magnus Chase, but I still find this series very fun to read.

It probably doesn’t hurt that this particular book is set in my hometown (Indianapolis) and his depiction of the city, including naming a favorite eatery of mine (Cafe Patachou-which has the best chicken salad and cinnamon toast in the city), is accurate. My son just finished the book last night and he loved the fact that he has walked along the same canal as Leo and Apollo (although he was on a Pokewalk) and has ridden the same zoo train they do (he was, in fact, obsessed with it as a small child). Riordan’s descriptions of the town are pretty darn accurate and made the book even better for us.

I like that this series seems geared at a slightly younger audience than Magnus Chase. Don’t misunderstand, I love that Riordan has the Magnus series, which is geared more to late middle and high school students. However, my son, isn’t quite ready for Magnus. There are moments in The Dark Prophecy that I am not quite sure he is ready for either, but they either went over his head or he’s more ready than I thought because he didn’t mention anything. There are subtle discussions of Apollo’s romantic relationships, but nothing too mushy or mature.

I like that Riordan has included Emmie and Jo and that they get to teach Apollo a bit about love and sacrifice. I think this it is good to show kids strong, healthy relationships and families, especially ones that don’t fit the cookie cutter mold. Kids develop empathy through reading and Riordan’s books always do a wonderful job of showing characters who not only need empathy, but also show great empathy. I love that this book deals a lot with the idea of second chances.

And, Leo is back. I like Leo

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