Friday, August 27, 2010

Goddess Girls: Athena the Brain by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams

Athena thinks she is merely a human girl living in Greece. Smart, yes, but nothing more than an ordinary girl. Well, an ordinary girl with some extraordinary magic. Until the day she receives an invitation to the very exclusive Olympus Academy, delivered by a small dust devil directly into her bedroom.

It's from the Headmaster at Olympus Academy, Zeus, who also happens to be the King of the Gods. In the letter, he calls Athena his daughter, which is a huge surprise to her. She spends a last day with her best friend, Pallas, and heads off to Olympus Academy.

Just inside the doorway is a fountain which holds the most delicious-smelling juice she's ever smelled. She drinks some, and finds that her skin begins to sparkle like little gems are embedded in it. This is a sign that she is a goddess. The fountain holds Ambrosia, the food of the gods.

At the office, she checks in with Ms. Hydra, who has nine heads, and signs up to take 5 classes, quite a lot for a first year student. She finds the God-boy Poseidon quite attractive, but finds out that he flirts with everyone, which isn't attractive at all.

She finds herself making an enemy in Medusa and her two goddess sisters, but some of the other Goddess Girls come to her rescue- Artemis, Aphrodite and Persephone. They hang out together, along with Athena's roommate, better known as Pandora, who is endlessly curious.

Although the dislike of Medusa and her sisters is palpable, Athena struggles along in her classes of hero-ology, where she must guide a hero named Odysseus through the Trojan War, and with designing something to aid the Greek people for a school contest, but can't decide between rakes, olives or ships. However, she also causes a minor catastrophe when her literal "brainstorming" of these items rains them down over the Greek Countryside.

But when Medusa steals her "Snarkeypoo" potion, a shampoo that turns bad thoughts to stone in its user's heads, Athena realizes that she accidentally misnamed it "Snakeypoo" instead. And Medusa used it, turning her hair into snakes and giving her the power to turn non-Gods to stone. Can Athena undo the effects of her potion and rescue Pandora from being turned into a statue forever? And who will win the Invention competition? Athena or Poseidon?

In a way, I found this book very enjoyable. It's a book a lot of girls will enjoy, reading about the brainiest goddess of them all, and about how she triumphs over adversity. But at the same time, I've been reading about the Greek Gods and Goddesses since I was in the second grade, and every time the book diverged from the actual Greek myths, I cringed.

Poseidon, the older brother of Zeus as a teenager while Zeus (who is the youngest of all his brothers and sisters) is an adult? Athena, born from the head of Zeus fully grown, being a young girl? Although, to be honest, they do mention that Aphrodite was born from sea foam, and Artemis already has her hunting hounds.

In the end, for Greek Myth purists, watching your children read these books might be awfully cringe-inducing, but they are very enjoyable for young girls and give them an introduction to the Greek Myths, which might lead to them reading the *actual* Greek myths. I can only hope. Recommended slightly.

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