Goddess Girls: Athena the Brain by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
|Goddess Girls: Athena the Brain by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Brainy girl Athena discovers her father is Zeus (and, even more surprisingly, her mother is a fly) which makes her a goddess. She is invited to attend Mount Olympus Academy, where she makes new friends and develops her powers.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: April 2010|
|External links: Author's website|
Turns out Mount Olympus isn't so very different from our world after all. Lots of young gods and goddesses all together, making friends, discovering how to use their abilities properly, and having the occasional argument. It has eccentric teachers, handsome boys, and mean girls — in other words, it's middle school!
Don't turn to these books if all you want is a watered-down version of the Greek myths to educate young readers. That's not what they're for. The two authors have created a series of stories about young girls at school, with all the joys, problems and challenges that involves, and placed it in a mythological background. The result is a set of sweet, entertaining stories for pre-teen girls, with as a bonus a certain amount of information about the gods, updated and adapted to the theme. For example, Athena's father Zeus is the Headmaster of the Academy, a loud, brash and cheerful god who doesn't seem to realise that people get an electric shock when they touch him — as if your dad being the headmaster wasn't bad enough. And while Medusa, a seriously nasty Mean Girl, does get that unusual hairdo through Athena, in this book it's because of a botched experiment in shampoo-making.
Like a certain young wizard of our acquaintance, Athena has no idea she is anything but an ordinary mortal until the invitation arrives (via a piece of flying papyrus) to go to Mount Olympus Academy. And like any young girl, she is both excited at the prospect of a new life and unhappy at the thought of leaving the certainties and security of home. Most especially, she doesn't want to leave her adopted sister and close friend Pallas. But you don't turn down invitations from the gods, and besides, being extremely brainy, Athena has never really fitted in at Triton School.
Everything that this book's young readers are likely to encounter in real life will be found here. The first day at school is a blur of new faces and new places, but Athena is lucky enough to quickly find a group of close friends. Then Poseidon, a popular and extremely good-looking young god, pays her attention, and she is flattered until she realises just how self-centred he is. Unfortunately, by then she has earned the undying hatred of Medusa, which isn't helped when the unpleasant girl meddles with something Athena prepared for the Invention Fair, and gets more than she bargained for in return.
This book could just be enjoyed as a fantasy/school story, and be none the worse for that. The language is simple, the plot light-hearted and straightforward, and the themes fairly traditional: school, friendship, and a burgeoning interest in boys. It can be read satisfyingly quickly, too, having nice large print which is double-spaced. But there are lots of mythical references, and some of them are very cleverly introduced. Readers who know a little about the Greek myths will get a lot more from the book, especially the jokes and wordplays (the school canteen serves yambrosia stew and oracle-o cookies, for example). All in all, it's a pleasant, rather charming story, and lots of young girls will thoroughly enjoy it.
You can read more book reviews or buy Goddess Girls: Athena the Brain by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Goddess Girls: Athena the Brain by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams at Amazon.com.
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