Riordan, R. (2007). Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse. New York: Hyperion Paperbacks for Children.
Appetizer: Set in winter, the third book in the Percy Jackson series begins with Percy, Annabeth and Thalia answering a call for assistance from Grover to come to Westover Hall in Maine. The satyr has found two more half-blood children of the Greek gods who could aid them against the mounting forces of the bad guys.
When Percy and his friends arrive they discover that the newly discovered half-bloods have also been discovered by the monsters as well. When a fight ensues, Percy is aided by a Greek goddess he has not met previously and the hunters who follow her. Yet, despite the assistance, Annabeth is still lost, potentially forever. While another prophecy is in the words, Percy is more concerned with trying to find his lost friend, a quest that will, once again, take Percy across the country to battle monsters and gods that want to overthrow the Olympian gods.
As the third book in the series, The Titan's Curse holds its place well, making many references to the previous novels and also setting more more of the conflicts for the rest of the series.
I have to say, I am impressed with the scope of Riordan's vision for this series/epic. Sure, he is re-presenting many of the classic characters of myth, but it's amazing the way he has brought them all together in this mounting tension over a possible war between the Titans and the Olympians.
*Slight spoiler for the second book* With Thalia back, I really liked the tension Riordan created between them over who was the hero of the prophecy that's driving this series. I liked that it could be used to discuss jealousies and attempts to share responsibilities. *end slight spoiler*
I also liked Riordan's interpretation of Artemis and her hunters. I found it particularly interesting since the young adult novel, Rampant (with killer unicorns!) had a very different approach. (While these books might be good to compare, it's important to note that they're intended for slightly different ages. Rampant is an upper-young adult novel and the Percy Jackson series tends to fall between middle grade and young adult territory)
An activity specific to this book of the series would be to focus on Apollo's interest in poetry. A teacher could share some poetic forms (haiku and limericks are directly mentioned) and have readers write their own poetry about the series or Greek gods in response. Or they could complete the limerick that begins "There once was a goddess from Sparta...."
More than some of the other books in this series, The Titan's Curse could be used to trigger discussion on the experience of having an absent father and the emotions and difficulties that can cause for a child.
This book could also be used to discuss jealousy, competition, gender roles, Greek mythology (of course!) and even the scary process of realizing you may *like* like one of your friends.
QUOTES OF NOTE:
"The Friday before winter break, my mom packed me an overnight bag and a few deadly weapons and took me to a new boarding school. We picked up my friends Annabeth and Thalia on the way" (p. 1).
"Grover looked at Thalia desperately. I tried not to feel upset by that. Used to be, Grover looked at me for answers, but Thalia had more experience than any of us with fending off monsters n the real world" (p. 8).
"He raised his hands in a stop everything gesture. "I feel a haiku coming on."
The Hunters all groaned. Apparently they'd met Apollo before.
He cleared his throat and held up one hand dramatically.
"Green grass breaks through snow.
Artemis pleads for my help.
I am so cool."
He grinned at us, waiting for applause.
"That last line was only four syllables," Artemis said.
Apollo frowned. "Was it?"
"Yes. What about I am so big-headed?"
"No, no, that's six syllables. Hmm." He started muttering to himself.
Zoe Nightshade turned to us. "Lord Apollo has been going through this haiku phase ever since he visited Japan. 'Tis not as bad as the time he visited Limerick. If I'd had to hear one more poem that started with, There once was a goddess from Sparta--" (p. 47).
"Five shall go west to the goddess in chains,
One shall be lost in the land without rain,
The bane of Olympus shows the trial,
Campers and Hunters combined prevail,
The Titan's curse must one withstand,
And one shall perish by a parent's hand" (p. 89).
TASTY RATING: !!!