Thursday, December 11, 2014

Critical Thinking

Rick Riordan

Once a teacher, always a teacher. That is certainly true of Rick Riordan, who taught English and history to middle-school students and clearly takes great pleasure in sharing all that he knows about Greek mythology. Percy Jackson's Greek Gods adopts a tone any child could love, and imparts juicy information in tantalizing retellings. Percy states up front that there are other ways to tell the tales of these often adolescent-acting characters.

This elegantly designed oversize volume shows off some of the best artwork from Caldecott Honor artist John Rocco. Especially that quintet of illustrations charting the five rivers that flow into the Underworld.

Some of us grew up with d'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. It's a fabulous introduction to the pantheon created to explain the phenomena we observe in our world (the changing of the seasons, the sun rising and setting). But Riordan takes a child's perspective, pointing out the contradictions among the myths--or more specifically, the gods' behavior--as Percy offers his own take on the quirks of these immortals (and half-bloods).

At a time when educators discuss at length how to teach critical thinking, Percy Jackson models it by his words and deeds, questioning, probing and investigating. Children will laugh and learn at the same time.

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