The Lightning Thief

I just finished reading The Lightning Thief.  I won’t be reviewing it here, as I’m saving it for my new project in media res (more to come on that later), but I love it.  Rick Riordan is my hero.  I want to write books like THAT.  Also, I think I maybe would like to work with middle school students.

I knew I would love The Lightning Thief, because of the premise, and then because of the first page, but I really truly loved it on page 2, when Percy Jackson declared his Latin teacher cool and confessed that Latin was the only class in which he could stay awake.  As a “cool” Latin teacher of students with ADHD, I was so there.

Also, I like to pretend I’m a descendant of Athena.

Also also, it made me immensely happy that Rick Riordan’s description of Hades sounded just like my boyfriend, except  with long hair.

So, yeah.  That is my PERSONAL response to The Lightning Thief.  You can expect my professional response mid-July, when I launch in media res.  At that point I’m hoping to have some lesson ideas – not full on plans, but ideas – related to the book, as well as my in depth “How useful is this for teaching kids ancient culture?” review.

New Year, New Projects

2008 is The Year of Ambition for me.  I am going to take my dreams of various sorts and see what I can do to make them become reality.

One project I’ve had rolling around in my brain for three or four years now is a blog/website devoted to portrayals of the ancient Mediterranean in modern media.  My favorite part of teaching Latin is helping students make connections between the ancient world and the modern world, and I lovelovelove taking part in movies, books, video games, and music that reference the ancient world.  So I’ve wanted for a long time to bring that interest online.

I’ve set up a blog for this purpose and titled it in media res.  I thought it was a clever pun.  Here’s the mission statement for the blog:

The ancient world is present all around us, which is one of the primary reasons it merits study.  Unfortunately, Classics courses often relegate the study of ancient Greece and Rome to the realm of texts that many students find inaccessible, incomprehensible, or just plain dull.  The aim of in media res is to bring the ancient Mediterranean alive for modern students of the Classics by providing information about books, movies, video games, and other media that draw on the ancient world for inspiration.

I intend for in media res to assist students, parents, and educators in judging the merit of this media in two ways: historical/literary accuracy and entertainment value.  My reviews at in media res will evaluate whether a work is true to its source material, how the work may provide a new perspective on that source material, and whether the work is fun.

Getting this project off the ground will be part of my 2008 Year of Ambition.  I don’t have a launch date in mind yet.  Perhaps March 15 would be a good one.

I’ve decided to organize the site around various themes/topics to make it more useful to students, parents, educators, and other interested parties.  My source for inspiration on these topics is, at first anyway, the syllabus for the National Latin Exam.

The first topic I’ll be working on is The Olympians, so I’m now requesting from you suggestions of media to use for this.  I figure the Percy Jackson series is an obvious place to start.  But I’d love other suggestions that any of you out there in the kidlitosphere or elsewhere may have.

The other thing I’d love is suggestions for the type of content to appear in each post.  Obviously, I will include basic descriptions and a commentary on the historical/literary accuracy and entertainment value.  I was also considering including, though, information on possible source material (for this, it’d be Edith Hamilton’s and Bulfinch’s Mythology, plus D’Aulaire’s, and then I’m going to have to do some research to target particular ancient sources).  Also lesson plan suggestions, project ideas, this sort of thing.  Obviously, it’s quite an undertaking.  So I’ll want to set myself a reasonable schedule.  Perhaps one new "thing" a month, if that’s not too infrequent to sustain interest.  (Obviously old topics will be updated when new media is released.)

Opinions?  Suggestions?  I’m open.