Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos – R.L. LaFevers // Athena the Brain – Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

**I meant to finish/post this yesterday,  but it’s actually nice outside for the first time in like six months, so I was a little busy (i.e. drinking multiple ciders on my patio).

You know what’s positively delightful? Reading children’s books. I don’t mean picture books (although that can also be delightful), I mean middle-grade-and-younger chapter books. You generally don’t have to think too hard and, despite the simpler language, you don’t lose out on plot.

Last week, I read two children’s books. First was Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos.

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“Theodosia Throckmorton has her hands full at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities in London. Her father may be head curator, but it is Theo—and only Theo—who is able to see all the black magic and ancient curses that still cling to the artifacts in the museum. Sneaking behind her father’s back, Theo uses old, nearly forgotten Egyptian magic to remove the curses and protect her father and the rest of the museum employees from the ancient, sinister forces that lurk in the museum’s dark hallways.”

 I found it when I was looking for a present for my niece, Veruca, who turns 8 on Monday. I initially picked it up for her because the cover caught my eye, but as soon as I read the back, I knew I was going to end up keeping it for myself.

At times, it reminded me of Libba Bray’s The Diviners (obviously a younger version), in that delicious combination of museums and magic. And Theo is very amusing, somewhat reminiscent of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce (sidenote: if you haven’t read any of the Flavia mysteries, I highly recommend them).

It’s clearly the beginning of a series, so there was some set-up, but, being a children’s book, it launched into the action fairly quickly. The supporting characters were interesting, though none were as fleshed out as Theo herself.  I liked how Theo had to actually think, that not everything was spelled out for her, and the unexpected betrayal at the end kept the plot’s momentum going until the last page.

There are 3 or 4 other books in the series – I’m not in a rush to read them,  but this first one was definitely a treat.

The other book I read was Athena the Brain (loaned to me by the very same niece I was birthday-shopping for).

“In Athena the Brain, Athena always knew she was smart and special, but she didn’t realize that she was a goddess! When she’s whisked away to Mount Olympus Academy, she worries about fitting in and dealing with her dad (Zeus). Luckily, she meets the Goddess Girls and finds the best friends she’s ever had.”

I’ve been buying this series for Veruca for the past 2-ish years and I’ve told her repeatedly that I wanted to read them (I do enjoy Greek myths, although they almost always leave me with the longing to watch Hercules, one of my favourite Disney movies).

My favourite part was how the young goddessgirls/godboys were given mini hero figures in one of their classes and ended up starting the Trojan War. I also liked the descriptions of the young goddesses/gods and how they remained (mostly) true to their more traditional adult counterparts.

I think this series was written for an even younger audience. It’s less complicated than Theodosia, and much smaller, but the plot is still very fun. I don’t think Veruca knew a ton about Greek myths before reading these, but the way they were adapted for children is great, and if you know anything about mythology, you can catch most of the references.

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