Thursday, July 7, 2011

It's Elementary: Athena the Brain

I tend to read a lot of teen/young adult literature.  However, over half the school population is in the K-6 wing, and the youngsters check out far more books than the older students.  So, welcome to the inaugural segment of my new feature, "It's Elementary," where I will review books aimed at young to middle readers.  First up, I'd like to talk about the premiere book in the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub, Athena the Brain.

Checkouts: Not owned by the school
Typical reader: Aimed at girls, ages 8-12

Synopsis: Greek middle school student Athena is invited by the father she's never known, Zeus, to be a student at Mount Olympus Academy, where she can learn to be a goddess.

My Goodreads rating: Undetermined; probably a 3 or 4

I picked up this book on a mythology kick, in search of more novels in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians vein.  Also, I've got a bunch of girls moving up from Kindergarten that really need to expand their horizons from just reading princess and Barbie books - what better way than with goddesses, right?

Okay, so I may have fallen flat with both intentions.  Despite claiming to be for ages 8-12, I highly doubt the students that are reading Percy Jackson would stoop to this reading level.  On the other hand, it's probably above what my little princesses can handle on their own.  It might work when they're a bit older, or maybe this series would be a good one to share with their moms and dads at bedtime.  I'll try steering them toward the easier American Girls series first.

The story itself has me baffled as to how to rate it.  If you're a purist when it comes to Greek mythology, stay away!  Zeus is principal at the school, yet his classically older brother Poseidon is a hunky student who most of the "goddessgirls" swoon over.  But if you're looking for some clever rewriting and don't mind playing fast and loose with the Greek myths, this really isn't bad.  Athena the Brain features stories about how the gods influenced the Trojan war (in the "Hero-ology" class) and why Athena has a city named after her (her invention fair debut of olives bested Poseidon's water park).  There's also a nice story of making friends and dealing with mean girls.  And the cover art is fantastic.

I'll keep this series in mind for if the budget allows, but it's not a must-have.


  1. I like the format you've got going here; it sets things up nicely and gets both qualitative and quantitative information out there. As for the book itself, it certainly strikes me as...odd.

  2. Thanks! What part about the book strikes you as odd?

  3. The whole school setting of the thing. I guess I lean a little toward the "purist" side of things, as you put it.

  4. I think it may have worked better with a Titan as principal rather than Zeus, since his siblings are students alongside his offspring. Maybe Mnemosyne, mother of the Muses, would have been more suitable.