Title: Heroes in Training – Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom
Authors: Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams
Year published: 2012
Number of pages: 100
Recommended age: 5+
Son Rating: ★★★★★
Mom Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Summary (Amazon): After pulling a magical thunderbolt from a stone, ten-year-old Zeus goes on the adventure of a lifetime in this thrilling start to a brand-new series! The terrible Titans–merciless giants who enjoy snacking on humans–have dominated the earth and put the world into chaos. But their rule is about to be put to the test as a group of young Olympians discover their powers and prepare to righteously rule the universe….
Ten-year-old Zeus is mystified (and super-annoyed) by the fact that he keeps getting hit by lightning. Every. Single. Year. He also longs for adventure, as he has never been far from the cave where he grew up.
Zeus gets his wish–and a lot more than he bargained for–when he is kidnapped by dangerous, giant Titans! In self-defense, he grabs the first thing he sees–an actual thunderbolt he pulls from a stone that is covered in mysterious markings. Zeus is the only one who can decipher the markings, and sets off on a quest to rescue his youthful fellow Olympians from the evil Cronus. Armed with his trusty thunderbolt (named Bolt, of course), Zeus is on an adventure of a lifetime–and a journey to fulfill his destiny as King of the Gods.
What I liked and disliked about it: I really liked the story because it was a good adventure. The Harpies were cool but also scary. At first I thought they would take Zeus somewhere bad, but they actually saved him. That was nice.
It was funny how Zeus had a pet thunderbolt that was stuck to his hand. I wish I had a pet thunderbolt. I would pet it like a kitty cat [insert Mom rolling her eyes and saying, “Focus, focus son!”]. It was cute how the goat and bee looked after Zeus and it was different because usually people take care of animals, but here the animals take care of the person.
It was funny how Pythia the Oracle kept pronouncing things wrong and saying the wrong words because her glasses were foggy; like saying “underwear” instead of “underworld” and saying “greasy” instead of “easy” and “Goose” instead of “Zeus”. The tiny rock was cute because it had a tiny voice that used Chip Latin – that was funny.
I liked the pictures in the book. One of them was kind of scary – the one of the Harpies carrying Zeus. That would be scary in real life because I’d be scared that they would drop me from so high up.
I didn’t like that there were people in Cronus’ tummy – it was bad and I was glad that they got rescued. But it was a yucky way to get out.
My bottom line: I really, really liked this book and I can’t wait to read the next book. I would recommend it to boys and girls 9 years and under.
What I liked and disliked: As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I love, love, love stories steeped in legend and mythology – especially when it’s Greek mythology. In fact, when I was in Grade 7 (ish, it WAS a while ago!) I was able to choose an area of in-depth study for my English class and I chose to do a project on Greek mythology. I even named my first two cats after Greek mythological characters: Pandora and Athena.
The writing team of Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams did not disappoint – this book was fantastic! The entertaining story and whimsical writing style of the duo left us laughing out loud at some points, on the edge of our seats for others, and cheering for the heroes at the end. This book has it all: a likable and courageous hero in Zeus, comic relief provided by Pythia the Oracle, quirky elements such as a goat and a bee helping the nymphs raise a baby Zeus, nasty villains in the terrible King Cronus and his Cronies, and a riveting plot line based in Greek mythology.
The characters are not original but it was fun to read about Zeus’ history prior to becoming the King of the Gods. Much of Zeus’ early days is usually referenced in passing only or glossed over entirely in the myths of ancient Greece. This story gives us a comedic and enthralling peek into the thoughts and life of a young Zeus as well as introducing us to a young Poseidon, Hades, Hera, Demeter, and Hestia. Their depiction as youths was very entertaining!
The black and white illustrations in the book were really good. There was one picture per chapter depicting the major action taking place in the chapter. That felt just right. The word density in this 1oo-page book was relatively low for a chapter book which made it easy to read aloud to my children. It only took three days (about 2o minutes each reading session) to read the book. It really was non-stop action from start to finish – no attention span issues in my kids with this one!
While this did not personally bother me, it may be worth mentioning that there are elements of “gross” in the book. As mentioned above by my son, the way the prisoners in King Cronus’ stomach escape is rather gross. I’ll just let you use your imagination for how they got out! lol It was not an issue for me, nor did it particularly faze my kids – they just said “Ewwww! Gross!!”.
My bottom line: This book was so much fun to read to my kids. All three of us were glued to our seats with this story. I would highly recommend this book as a read aloud book to kids as young as 5 and to independent readers 7 years old and up. Truly, truly loved it!
* Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom was provided to us by the author free-of-charge in exchange for our honest review.*
If you liked our review of Heroes in Training: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom, pop on over for a sneak peek of the second book in the Heroes in Training series, Poseidon and the Sea of Fury, as well as a GIVEAWAY for a $100 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash.
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