Picture from "The Library Dragon" by Carmen Agra Deedy, illustrations by Michael P. White

"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist.
Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."
- G. K. Chesterton

Friday, April 6, 2012

YOUNG ADULT - The Red Pyramid

Working in a high school I missed the boat on Riordan’s previous best selling series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.” When I heard they were making a movie based on that series, I purchased a set for my media center and was amazed at how the books flew off the shelf. In fact, because they were never on the shelf, I never got to read them! So I decided early on that I wanted to read The Red Pyramid. Fortunately for me, my local library only had it in the audio version. If I had found the hardback version, all 528 pages of it, I might have chickened out. Also, the audio version was performed by two delightful vocal actors, Kevin R. Free and Katherine Kellgren, who really brought the story to life. I would highly recommend this version for those of you with tweens and above planning road trips this summer.

The story is told alternately by Carter and Sadie Cane, the children of a famous Egyptologist, Julius Cane. Sadie has been living with her mother’s parents in England since her mother’s death 6 years ago, while Carter has been traveling the world with his father. They all reunite at the British Museum on Christmas Eve where Julius, in an attempt to “make thing right” casts a spell that results in his entombment and the release of 5 Egyptian gods. Uncle Amos rescues the children and takes them to the family mansion in New York where he reveals that they come from a long line of magicians. Carter and Sadie must face many trials as they journey to the Red Pyramid save their father and the world. Along the way they are helped by one mentor in particular, Sadie’s cat who is in actuality the Egyptian goddess, Bast. Both children mature and discover important lessons about themselves on their journey until ultimately, they return to New York, at the end of one quest but ready to begin another.

Riordan obviously did a great deal of research about the Egyptian gods and goddesses as well as ancient life in the time of the Pharaohs. I admit there was a time or two when I was rather overwhelmed with all the different Egyptian names and myths but the author repeats those most important to the story enough times that ultimately I was able to sort everyone out. Riordan infuses his main characters with a remarkable sense of humor that often shows itself at particularly unexpected moments, possibly defusing what otherwise might be too scary for younger children. At any event, I found myself laughing out loud frequently. I also shed a tear or two over the losses the Sadie and Carter must endure. I have to say, I haven’t been this touched by a “children’s book” since Harry Potter. Fortunately, this is only book one of the Cane Chronicles. I’m already looking forward to listening to the next two books in the series, The Throne of Fire and The Serpents Shadow (to be released May 1, 2012.)

Riordan, Rick. The Red Pyramid [sound recording] Grand Haven, Mich. : Brilliance
Audio, 2010