Author: Carolyn Hennesy
Description: A caveat up front: I was predisposed to like this book. I’m a fan of the author, who plays Diane on General Hospital and Barb on Cougar Town, among other things. She’s a smart, funny, strong and cool lady, so I went into this expecting good things.
This is a book for tweens. If you are not between 8 and 12, you must read the book keeping in mind the target audience to appreciate it. It’s light and funny with lots of adventure and lessons in history, mythology, social skills and morality thrown in. It is not Percy Jackson for girls (and Percy Jackson is as much for girls as boys, by the way). Yes, the foundation of the story is mythological. Yes, the main character and her 2 friends have to save the world. But every story for kids is about children taking on great responsibility, usually with the help of a few good friends.
I like Pandora a lot. I think that most girls would identify with her. She has an annoying little brother, a mom who works too much, a lot of stress over school and homework, and a crush on the cutest boy in the world. She wants desperately to be grown up until grown-up responsibilities land on her shoulders, when she realizes being a girl might not have been so bad. But she shoulders the responsibilities and does her best to make up for her mistakes and save the world and her family. Basically, this is a new entry in the tradition of myths about heroes, children of the gods sent on daring adventures and learning major lessons, while teaching them as well. And this hero is a girl! That fact is deeply satisfying to those of us who read mythology as a kid and were disappointed that the girls were always the victims or minor players at best.
The book is quick and light, but has a lot of fun elements. The mythological references are often humorous in an attempt to relate them to our modern world, such as the conch shells they use to communicate over a distance being set on vibrate for silence and not working well in the mountains due to interference. There are a few lines thrown in that are probably there to be appreciated by grown-up reading the books with their kids, like some things about Zeus and women, or between the father and mother about their marriage. Most of all, it’s a great adventure story that also teaches kids a lot about friendships, making good choices, and mythology.
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