Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Speaking of middle grade fiction, I recently picked up Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom (Heroes in Training) by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams at a library sale. Regular readers are aware of my fascination with mythology, and I figured my son and daughter would be interested, plus it is the first in a series which is always fun.

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, Zeus 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 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.

It is an interesting take on the Greek legends of the Titans and Olympians; a humorous and mostly lighthearted one.  This is the first volume and focuses on introducing Zeus and connecting him to the rest of the Olympians (spoiler alert: they are in Cronus’s belly) while setting the foundation for the ongoing battle between the two sides.

The authors do a nice job of  balancing the elements of classic mythology with current language and perspectives.  It is a quick read obviously and seems aimed at younger readers not quite ready for the longer and more complex books like Percy Jackson, etc. and might be a good place to start with young boys interested in mythology and adventure.

This was an example of a middle grade book that was quite different from the more detailed and complex young adult books I have read.  This is more like a chapter book for young readers.  But as I said, a quick easy read with a nice blend of adventure, mythology and humor. Not a series I would want to read myself but something for my kids (my son in particular).

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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