Friday, February 19, 2010

The Olympics and Mt. Olympus

As you know, I have been thinking about and watching the Olympics. That's why world peace and cupcakes were on my mind the other night... but I digress. The Olympics combined with the theatrical release of Percy Jackson Lightning Thief brought another book to mind, "Young Zeus."

“Young Zeus”
By G. Brian Karas
For ages 4 – 9
• A playful story about Zeus’ childhood leading up to his ascension to the crown. Fans of Greek mythology, “Percy Jackson,” and homeschoolers will find it entertaining and educational. Rated 3.5 (humor, adventure, some dark subject matter)

Are you interested in how things begin? Brian Karas is, which is why he decided to write about young Zeus. The story of how Zeus’ mom hid baby Zeus on the island of Crete, in the care of the enchanted goat, Amaltheia, has been told before. However, there isn’t much written about what happened between being a baby and Zeus taking the throne of the gods.

“Young Zeus” is Karas’ take on Zeus’ childhood leading up to and including overthrowing his father, Cronus, and freeing his brothers and sisters. Unlike most accounts of Zeus, this story presents him as a likeable young boy who just wants to “play with his brothers and sisters,” something to which many kids can releate.

Upon being rescued, Zeus’ brothers and sisters begin arguing about who should take over, but it is Zeus who uses his brain to banish the remaining titans from Mount Olympus and thus earn the leadership position — and finally get playtime with his siblings.

Light dialogue and playful illustrations keep the mood humorous, even when discussing underworld banishment, war, and being eaten by a dragon. The energetic storytelling keeps the story from getting mired in the intricacies of Greek mythology and concentrates on the story of a child who just wants someone with whom to play.

Fans of Greek mythology, “Percy Jackson,” and homeschoolers, will find “Young Zeus” entertaining, enlightening, and educational.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Olympics and World Peace

The Winter Olympics are here. Well, actually they're in Vancouver, but you know what I mean. During these two weeks the world comes together and everyone seems to get along. It doesn't matter what your race, color, or nationality is the Olympics bring everyone together in a kind of titular brotherhood. All the talk of peace, happiness, and competition brought a few books to mind. Today's is "Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace."

“Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace”
By James Proimos
For Ages 3 – 8
• “Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace” is a simplified look at how to behave in the world. It’s a great lesson for youngsters, but may rub cynical adults the wrong way. Rated 3.5 (fun, good lesson)

“Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace” is a simplified look at how to behave in the world. It’s a great lesson for youngsters, but may rub cynical adults the wrong way. Paulie is a young boy with a big dream. He wants to spread peace so he starts small. He is kind to animals, he reads to trees, and he apologizes to his sister. But when he discovers that everyone likes cupcakes Paulie discovers a secret — the secret to world peace. And thus begins his world tour — Furniture World, Tire World, Mattress World and so on. By the end of the day everyone is happy and peaceful and Paulie’s parents feel blessed to have such a wonderful child. As well they should.

The cartoony illustrations add to the fun romp through Paulie’s effort to spread world peace. The fact that Paulie is not perfect means all children can relate. Since his simple acts seem to have a big impact, maybe this tale will infect a few children with the notion that world peace is possible. It’s a great lesson and a great thought.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Change is Coming: Making changes for better reviews and easier reading

I have been listening to your suggestions to make Chapter One Book Reviews work better for you. So now I am making a few upgrades to my system that should provide a better product for you.

• Although Times is a standard typeface and one of the more legible in print, the Internet does not behave the same as the printed page. Therefore I will be changing the entries to a san serif font — probably stick with Helvetica — to make them easier to read online.

• You'll notice on my next review that the entry begins with a very short review synopsis. This should make things quick and easy for you. 

• Each review will also include a number rating system. You will be able to find this number directly after the review synopsis. The ratings will be 1 – 5 with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst. A couple keywords will also be included to provide information as to why the score was given. (ex. 3 - peril, language)

• A more in depth review will follow the short stuff for those interested in learning more about the book.

I have some more ideas I would like to implement and will continue to work on those in the coming months. Thank you. - McGeath