Middle School Monday: The Trials of Apollo (not a book review)
So, on its release date, a copy of Rick Riordan’s new book, The Trials of Apollo showed up on my doorstep. This was weird for me, because Rick Riordan is a household name amongst my middle school students. There is no way he needs to do a blog tour to promote his next book. Students buy his newest hardcover for full price at our book fairs. His books circulate so much I’m glad they are located close to the reshelving cart. Why did I get a hardcover copy of this book? Is Disney/Hyperion just feeling generous? And the I see this tweet:
And we find that Rick Riordan has offered a logical and consistent view of same sex relationships within his Greek Gods universe. Apollo,who has been banished to earth as a human, explains how he has had relationships over the many centuries with both men and women, and is completely unconcerned with the relationship his son has with his new boyfriend.
To be honest, I don’t think this is something most of my students will even remark upon. They have, on the whole, grown up with the acknowledgement of same sex relationships, gender fluidity, and other previously taboo subjects being completely normal. While I was thinking about this, it occurred to me that it has been a number of years since I’ve had to correct one of my students for using the word ‘gay’ as an insult.
On the other hand, this is something that most adults will notice. I find that there are generally 3 types of adult response to anything controversial that might be found in a middle grade novel. The first I’ll refer to as the ‘helicopter parent’ response. The adult looks at the material, makes a judgement about whether it is something they want their own student to read, then acts accordingly. The second I’ll refer to as the ‘laissez faire’ response. This adult assumes that students will find books that are right for them when they need them. Often, these are adults who were allowed the same freedom as children. Finally, we have what I refer to as the ‘community parent’ response. This one is similar to the ‘helicopter parent’, but instead of simply making judgements about reading materials for their own student, they want their judgement to be followed by all students. These are the adults that worry me.
The ‘helicopter parents’ are well within their rights to raise their own students as they see fit, and I respect their dedication and involvement in the lives of their students. I have to admit to being more of the ‘laissez faire’ type, but that may have more to do with being a librarian (and the fact that I have no children of my own.) ‘Community parents’ are the ones that worry me, because they try to force their opinions on a community, up to and including seeking to ban books.
So I’m wondering, is Disney Hyperion simply seeking to promote a groundswell of support for this novel by sending it out to bloggers? Or are they just being generous? Or are they trying something new? Or am I over thinking this?
Publisher’s Book Description:
How do you punish an immortal?
By making him human.
After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disorientated, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in the modern world until he can somehow find a way to regain Zeus’s favour.
But Apollo has many enemies – gods, monsters and mortals who would love to see the former Olympian permanently destroyed. Apollo needs help, and he can think of only one place to go . . . an enclave of modern demigods known as Camp Half-Blood.
Filed under: Middle School Monday
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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