155-157. Heroes in Training Books 1-3 by Joan Holub

155. Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams.  Illustrations by Craig Phillips.
Heroes in Training (1)

Rating: (4/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Aug. 7, 2012, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 100 pgs
Age: 6-10

"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 lightening. 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."

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

A book for the younger age group, this is an exciting story that introduces kids to the world of Greek mythology.  Set at the time when King Cronus, the Titan, has devoured the Olympians we start off with Zeus being an abandoned orphan now 10 years old.  The book is pretty much all plot and action concentrating on Zeus and how he acquires his Thunderbolt.  He meets up with half-giants, harpies and eventually the Titans themselves.  Near the end of the book, fellow 10 year old Hera and Poseidon are introduced as the next quest is given to the threesome which leaves us ready for the next book.  While taking many liberties with Greek mythology the basics are there and this book for the youngest readers could open up an interest in the topic for those not ready yet for such books as the Percy Jackson series.  A fun story, very much action oriented.

156. Poseidon and the Sea of Fury by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams.  Illustrations by Craig Phillips.
Heroes in Training (2)

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Dec.4, 2012, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 110 pgs
Age: 6-10

"A young Poseidon must triumph over aquatic terrors in this Heroes in Training adventure.  
The merciless Cronus and his Titan buddies are in hot pursuit of Zeus, Hera, and Poseidon, who plan to travel across the treacherous boiling sea in order to save a fellow Olympian. They have a boat, but they also have a problem: Poseidon can’t swim and is terrified of the water (well, really of the creatures that lurk in its depths). The group faces danger after danger as they battle singing sirens, a fishy and ferocious Titan named Oceanus, and people-eating monsters sent by Cronus himself. Can Poseidon overcome his fears and help his fellow heroes escape Cronus and his cronies?"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Great follow-up to the first book.  I enjoyed this one much more.  The kids’ personalities are shaping up and we have a trio on quest now making for better dynamics.  Their quest for this book is to find the trident, unfortunately none of them knows what a trident is but Hera is sure it will be her magic weapon.  As their magic stone heads them towards the boiling sea Poseidon is hilarious.  You see the future (unbeknownst to him) King of the seas is afraid of the water,  thinks it will melt him, can’t swim, gets sea sick and is generally miserable on the water.  Little by little as the quest does take them out upon the ocean Poseidon does learn some truths bout himself and his whiny, scaredy character receives some much needed self-confidence.  Again, this book is not true to Greek Mythology, many liberties have been taken but a basic storyline is in place that hopefully young readers will remember as they get older and venture further out into more closely tied mythology.  In this volume we meet the Sirens luring sailors to their deaths, the Titan Oceanus, creatures of the sea that want to help Poseidon, the Androphagoi.  It is while fighting Oceanus that they uncover their 4th member who was a prisoner of Oceanus, Hades.  Hera set off on her own mission this volume and we haven’t seen her since so as we enter the third volume we have the three boys, Zeus, Prometheus and Hades in search for the Helm of Darkness.  When and where will Hera return?  An action-packed volume for the younger reader that introduces them to Ancient Greek myths.

157. Hades and the Helm of Darkness by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams.  Illustrations by Craig Phillips.
Heroes in Training (3)

Rating: (5/5)

(US) - (Canada) - (Kindle)

Apr. 2, 2013, Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, 117 pgs
Age: 6-10

"The Heroes in Training are entering the Underworld—if Hades can conquer his canine fears, that is.
The Underworld usually isn’t really meant to be a fun place—but tell that to Hades! He loves the dark and the stinky smell of sulfur. However, there is one thing that Hades is not a fan of: dogs. And when Zeus and his fellow Olympians encounter Cerberus—a snarling, three-headed dog—Hades must conquer his fears and tame the hound so everyone can continue into the Underworld and deposit their Titan prisoner, Oceanus, back where he belongs! 
But with magical water that causes forgetfulness, hot beds of lava, and another epic battle with two more Titans standing in their way, will Zeus and his heroes make it out of the Underworld with everyone intact?"

Received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

I am hooked on this young children's chapter book series!  While easy to read it is a fun, engrossing, action-packed quest adventure that is sure to please.  I love Greek mythology and it is keeping me entertained.  It certainly takes liberties with the original Greek tales it takes inspiration from, but it gets the basic details right and introduces youngsters to the main players in the world of Greek gods.  Obviously from the title we can tell that the quest for this book is to find Hades' Helm in The Underworld.  Along the way the current group of Olympians meet up with Charon, Cerberus, Mnemosyne, the furies and Thantos.  Since Hades joined the gang in the last book, it is only appropriate that Demeter, through her filial ties to the Underworld, is the new Olympian added to the group of heroes.  It's refreshing to see such a quality adventure quest series for this younger age group.


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