Many adults may be wary of picking up a children's book for casual reading. However, there is a certain amount of adventure in children's books that can make any adult reader feel like they have reverted back to their childhood. Books like J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia are books enjoyed by both children and adults. They explore themes and ideas that are not only educational and relevant for children, but are meaningful to adult readers as well.
Another series of books has transcended this conflict between what determines a book as children's literature and what makes it adult literature is the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians.
Written by Rick Riordan, the Percy Jackson series consists of five separate tales surrounding young teen Percy Jackson. These titles include: The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters, The Titan's Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth, and The Last Olympian.
In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, Percy Jackson is a twelve-year old boy stuck in a reform school struggling with ADHD and a severe form of dyslexia. With his best friend Grover by his side, Percy struggles with schoolwork, bullies, and mean teachers. Percy also struggles with the fact that his father left when he was still a baby, and his mother is re-married to a not-so-nice man Gabe.
But soon, like all other adventure stories, things begin to change for Percy Jackson. On a school field trip to a museum, his grumpy, old teacher Mrs. Dodds suddenly turns into a giant bird, ready to attack and kill Percy. His teacher Mr. Brunner gives him a pen which miraculously turns into a sword that Percy then uses to defeat this winged enemy. Shortly thereafter a series of events occur that Percy cannot comprehend: Grover reveals himself to be half-goat, Percy's mother is killed by a large minotaur monster, and Percy manages to defeat the minotaur-keeping it's horn as a souvenir.
From there, everything changes. Percy is sent to a special camp where he learns that he is the son of a god, and that all of the other campers are like him- demi-gods who are the products of human/god relationships. Percy is first put into a cabin with the rest of the children of unknown lineage, but he later learns that he is the son of Poseidon, the god of the sea.
Percy also learns that his teacher, Mr. Brunner, is a centaur who is in charge of the camp, and that Grover, his paralyzed, wimpy friend, is really a satyr, in training to be Percy's protector.
Eventually Percy is given a quest, to retrieve a stolen lightning bolt and settle a dispute between Zeus and Poseidon. Grover accompanies Percy as his protectorate. Annabeth, a fellow camper and daughter of Athena, accompanies Percy as well.
Throughout this quest, Percy, Grover, and Annabeth encounter gods and demons from Hades to Medusa to Ares. In a world where Greek mythology is truth and children are the sons and daughters of gods, nothing seems impossible. They meet evil puppies, get stuck in a van with zoo animals, avoid being turned to stone by Medusa, and travel to Los Angeles, the city where, ironically enough, they find the entrance to the Underworld.
Riordan cleverly mixes Greek mythology with real-life situations in a story that focuses primarily on Percy coming to terms with who he is, and attempting to rescue his mother from the Underworld in the meantime.
The Lightning Thief is a story filled with humor and adventure that will delight not only the youngest of readers, but will hold the attention of and engage adult readers as well.