The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle


Author: Rick Riordan

Illustrator/Photographer: None

Publisher and Year: Disney Hyperion 2016

Number of pages: 361

Genre: Children’s Fiction Novel


The Trials of Apollo: The Hidden Oracle is the first book in the Rick Riordan’s new series The Trials of Apollo.  This is Riordan’s third series in the Percy Jackson universe, the first being Percy Jackson and the second being Heroes of Olympus. These three series are based around the concept that the ancient Greek gods are still around in modern times and are continuing the tradition of creating half human half god children called demigods. These series create a timeline of events, all leading up to The Hidden Oracle. The book takes place from the God Apollo’s perspective. The basic plot of the book is that Apollo is being punished by Zeus and for his punishment he is turned into a mortal teenager. In order to regain his godly status, Apollo must redeem himself in some way. Apollo meets a twelve year old named Meg who becomes his companion and guide on his quest. The book is full of adventure, friendship, and past regrets.


This book is not only a great adventure story, but also a great story for representation. Many times in the novel, Apollo is forced to think about the past mortals he has loved. He continually thinks about Hyacinthus and Daphne, two mortal humans he had fallen in love with throughout his years as a god. While they are both influential to Apollo’s emotions throughout the story, they are, more importantly, of the opposite gender. This novel not only creates a fantastical world of adventure, it also brings in a realistic depiction of a protagonist who identifies as bisexual. There are also other characters in the story that are not straight. This novel is an example of diversity in sexual orientation in a novel. Too often, especially in children’s literature, are protagonists only depicted as straight, which can be detrimental to children that do not identify that way.


Overall, this book addresses many hard hitting themes like family dynamics, emotional abuse, and grief. This novel is engaging, exciting, and a good source of representation on many different issues. The rest of the Trials of Apollo series will be released over the next couple of years and cannot be spoken for on its depiction of diversity. The Hidden Oracle can be a great source of diversity for many students, and can broaden their world view while being an engaging and adventurous story.

Buffalo Dreams

Author(s): Kim DonerIMG_4387

Illustrator/Photographer: Kim Doner

Publisher and Year: WestWinds Press in 1999

Number of Pages: 38

Genre: Fiction


This story is about the Bearpaw family and how they decide to make a trip to visit the only white buffalo on earth which is a symbol in the Native American culture for a spirit named White Buffalo Calf Woman, and the children believe that touching the calf will bring them magic. The oldest child, Sarah, is given an eagle feather from her grandfather’s headdress which is supposed to represent strength to her dreams, and she decides she wants to give this feather to the calf so that “her dreams can grow, too” (Doner p.11). In the end, the two children accidently end up in the buffalos’ pen and have a close encounter with the white buffalo calf’s mother, but before they end up escaping from the mother buffalo, the calf comes over and puts her head into Sarah’s palm.

The illustrations are large and usually take up the whole two-page spread. The images are also unframed which makes the reader feel like they are also experiencing everything with the characters. The images are also very detailed and realistic which again add to the reader feeling like they, too, are a part of the scene. I also noticed that at the bottom of each two-page spread was a dreamcatcher, but it showed the progression of making a dreamcatcher from its beginning stages in the beginning of the story to the completed dreamcatcher at the end. The characters in this story are both described and illustrated as Native Americans which are accurately represented in relation to their culture, not just the stereotypical idea of how Native Americans look, act, or dress.

When first reading this story, I thought that it was just a story about a Native American family visiting a rare white buffalo because they thought it was magical. However, after reading the author’s note and the legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman in the back of the book, I realized that this story was inspired by a Native American legend about a White Buffalo Calf Woman who helps answer the dreams of believers, and an actual white buffalo calf that was born in 1994 named Miracle. I believe this story is a great window for children to learn about the Native American culture because it includes Native American legends and traditions. I also think that this story works as a mirror for modern day Native American children because there are not many stories which talk about Native Americans in a modern day setting. Overall, this story is a great way to introduce Native American culture into children’s literature.


Doña Flor

Author: Pat Mora

Illustrator: Raul Colón

Publishing Information: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

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Doña Flor is a warm-hearted giant lady living in a village in the American Southwest. She can talk to all kinds of animals and make friends with them. One day, a terrifying noise scares all villagers. Doña Flor goes on an adventure. With the help of her animal friends, she finds out that the origin of the noise is a puma, which is relatively smaller than her. In the end, she makes friend with the little puma as well.

Besides the Golden Kite Award, this book also won a Pura Belpré Award for illustrations and a Pura Belpré Honor for narrative. The story demonstrates multiculturalism by depicting Doña Flor as a Latino lady. The text functions as a window for children to look at an imaginary world and at the same time shows children the beauty of human nature. She would “tuck her animal friends in and read them a good-night story” (p. 12). When the whole village is frightened by the noise, Flor is worried and thinks “what can I do to cheer my friends up” (p. 18).

I found the book problematic for the following reasons. First of all, in the story there are always some children laughing at Flor because she is giant. However, when they need Flor’s help, they would still say, “Por favor, Flor, could you give us a ride” (p. 3). And then Flor says nothing and “took just one of her giant steps and was at the school door” (p. 3). Children might interpret this plot in a wrong way and think that it is okay to be rude to other people because they are still going to help them in the future. Secondly, although it is nice to depict the main character different from normal people for teaching children to accept the differences among people, the giant figure of Flor suggests that human beings are more powerful than nature. Some texts also reveal this point. For example, “Flor knew that her village needed un rio, a river, so to make her neighbors happy, Doña Flor scratched a new riverbed with her thumb” (P. 18). Children should learn to respect nature instead of always trying to conquer nature.

Perceptually, the author uses a lot of descriptive sentences which makes the story more engaging. For instance, the first sentence of the book is “Every winter morning when the sun opened one eye, Doña Flor grabbed a handful of snow from the top of a nearby mountain” (P. 2). The pictures are not framed which give readers a view from within. The illustrator uses warm colors generally to depict the gentle atmosphere. Structurally, most of the text and images do not overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to be brave and not afraid of nature. Also, the nobility of Doña Flor tells children that it is nice to help others. Overall, it is an amazing and beautiful story.

The Reverend Thomas’s False Teeth

Author: Gayle Gillerlain

Illustrator: Dena Schutzer

Publishing Information: BridgeWater Books, 1995.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

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Reverend Thomas was coming to Gracie’s home for dinner. Gracie and her family were so busy preparing the dishes for Reverend Thomas. However, he accidentally lost his false teeth overboard. Everyone tried to get the teeth for Reverend Thomas but they all failed. Finally, clever Gracie helped him find the teeth and they all enjoyed the delicious meal together.

This book includes spiritual and religious elements. The text serves as a window for children to look at one specific aspect of culture. Through the book, readers can have a glance at what the life of a Christian family is like. Therefore, readers can better connect the story with their own life.

I find this book problematic in various ways. Firstly, gender stereotypes and discriminations are presented. In the story, Gracie stayed at home and helped her mother prepare the dinner. We can see that her father was not doing anything because he is only mentioned by “Daddy rushed off with Will” (P. 8). Her brother was playing outside and not helping either. Besides, when people tried to think of methods to get Reverend Thomas’s teeth, nobody listened to Gracie. Secondly, when things happened accidentally, people pray. However, with all due respect, praying is not the way to actually solve the problem. After Reverend Thomas dropped his false teeth, the only thing he did was “praying for the safe return of his lost teeth” (P. 8). All of the neighbors helped him look for the teeth and Gracie’s brother Will even jumped into the water. It is not fair for everyone else to do the job for him even if he is honorable. Thirdly, when I read the method Gracie used to get the Reverend’s false teeth, I got a little confused. I think the author should elaborate it a little bit more about how Gracie used chicken for bait to catch the teeth.

Perceptually, the illustrations use bright colors to depict the joyful atmosphere. The pictures are not framed. Therefore, readers can have the view from within. Structurally, text and images overlap. Ideologically, the book teaches children to use their wisdom to solve problems instead of doing things without thinking.

Town Mouse Country Mouse

Author/ Illustrator: Jan Brett

Publishing Information: Scholastic Inc., 1994.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

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The town mice want to experience the quiet and peaceful countryside while the country mice want to live in a town where food is ready all the time. Therefore, they trade houses. They all have a difficult time living in environments which are completely different from what they are used to. In the end, they realize that their own homes are the most comfortable. So they trade back.

It is a classic story with wonderful illustrations. The text functions as both a mirror for children to reflect themselves during everyday life and a window for them to look at the differences between living in town and in country. The mice trade houses and experience another kind of lifestyle, and finally realize that what suits it best is the best choice, a rule which can be applied in many different aspects such as view of life and view of love.

One problem I found in the book is the class stereotypes presented in the text. Town mice stand for people who live in cities while country mice stand for people who live in the countryside. Town mice always have food prepared for them while country mice have nothing but the beautiful view and natural habitats. Nowadays, people concern more about environment and humanity construction in the city while focus on technology development in rural area.

Perceptually, the book uses a lot of dark colors to depict the confined situation where both the country mice and the town mice are not used to their new living conditions. The pictures are framed for readers to look into the story. The frames are in different artistic styles which attract younger readers. Structurally, text and images overlap. Ideologically, first of all, the book teaches children that the ones that suit them best are the best choices. Secondly, the story stresses family bond. What individuals have outside is not the most important, as long as they have their family company. Thirdly, the author tries to eliminate the class differentiation by pointing out both the advantages and disadvantages of living in the town and living in the countryside.

A Crow of His Own

Author: Megan Dowd Lambert

Illustrator: David Hyde Costello

Publishing Information: Charlesbridge, 2015.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Fiction, Picture book

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Clyde is new to Sunrise Farm after the former legendary rooster Larry leaves. He tries everything to gain popularity in the farm but never succeeds even once. With the help of the motherly goose Roberta, Clyde finally decides to be himself and calls out a crow of his own.

The book tells a story about an outsider trying to fit in. The text serves as both a window and a mirror for readers. It allows children to look at an interesting story on the farm and at the same time have some takeaways. The character Clyde is a typical figure who wants attention and popularity but keeps improperly belittling himself.

There is one plot which I found unnecessary. Roberta the motherly goose explains to Clyde why everyone else doesn’t talk to him. Not only does Clyde misspell her name, but he also does not show any appreciation to Roberta. Younger readers might think it is okay to take other people’s help for granted. The other thing I found problematic about this book is that Clyde always tries to impress everyone else. Although in the end he decides to call out his own crow, the reason he makes that decision is still to gain other people’s attention. Children should know that it is important to be themselves. Besides, I think the author should elaborate more about why the other animals despise Clyde. They look down on him not because his lack of talent, but because of his shortcomings which he could totally overcome by himself. For example, Clyde is shy and always tries so hard that he make a scene himself every time. He has his chances but he oversleeps and forgets to crow.

Perceptually, the book uses a lot of bright colors to depict the peaceful atmosphere on the farm. There are some dialog boxes in the illustrations which show readers the conversations directly. The images are not framed. Therefore, readers can actually participate in the story. Structurally, text and images overlaps. Ideologically, the book teaches children to be themselves. Everyone has his or her own advantages. Be brave and keep trying, then you will succeed.


Author/ Illustrator: Ezra Jack Keats

Publishing Information: the Penguin Group, 1969.

Number of Pages: 32

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

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Two boys Archie and Peter find a pair of goggles. They like it very much. However, some big boys appear and threat Archie and Peter for their goggles. Archie and Peter try to escape with the help of their smart dog Willie. Finally, they fool the big boys and run away with their precious goggles.

The main characters of the book are African Americans. The text serves as a door to for children to explore the life of minorities. I found the book problematic in the following two ways. First of all, although the story is about African Americans, I do not think it can count as a multicultural book because there is hardly any cultural elements presented in either the text or the illustrations. The story only exposes the dark side of African American society. The whole book is about two boys running away from bully and blackmail. Besides, I notice the poor environmental condition in the illustrations. Readers might get wrong impressions about African Americans. That is how stereotypes are made. Also, younger children who read the book might develop a fear for older children which leads to a result that they may be reluctant to school or any other places where there are children older than them.

Perceptually, the first part of the book uses a lot of dark colors to demonstrate the depression and the confined situation Archie and Peter face. But after they escape successfully and save the goggles, the main colors of the illustrations become brighter which depict free and joyful atmosphere. The pictures are not framed so that readers can have a view from within. There are a lot of dialogs in the text which make the story vivid. Structurally, text and images overlap so readers can easily combine the text and illustrations together. There are not many ideologies conveyed through this book. The only thing I notice as a takeaway is to keep calm and be brave in front of danger. Use your judgement and find the best way to save yourself.

Puzzled By Pink

Author/ Illustrator: Sarah Frances Hardy

Publishing Information: Penguin Group, 2012.

Number of Pages: 30

Genre: Non-fiction, Picture book

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Rose is a little girl who loves pink. She wants everyone coming to her birthday party wear pink fairy wings and tutus. However, her sister Izzy hates pink and tutus. She does not believe in magic or the wand. Suddenly, the wand works and turns Izzy’s cat into a dragon. They play together at the party downstairs.

The text functions as a window for children to look at the story of other people’s life. The author and illustrator really did a great job presenting diversity through the story. There are both boys and girls coming to Rose’s party and boys can be fairies. Children who show up at the party have different skin colors. It teaches children that people of different races or different genders can be friends.

In the story, the character Izzy is kind of mean to her little sister Rose. It was Rose’s birthday but in the text Izzy never congratulates her or even wishes her a happy birthday. It is not the right way how sisters should treat each other. Even though Izzy comes to the party downstairs and plays with Rose in the end, the reason she does that is to escape from the dragon instead of celebrating her sister’s birthday. A possible revision of the text could be even though Izzy won’t wear pink things, she still helps Rose prepare for the party and has fun. Also, for me, the ending is a little confusing. The fact that the dragon shows up as a vicious creature at first but then it comes downstairs to play with children might confuse readers.

Perceptually, the book uses contrastive colors to demonstrate the differences of personality between Rose and Izzy. Rose always wears pink while Izzy wears black and white. The images are not framed so that readers can actually participate in the story. When Izzy decides to go upstairs and has her own party, she moves to the right which conveys a sense of less security. Structurally, text and images do not overlap. Children might not have any insightful takeaways from the book but they can notice the diversity of people through this interesting little story.

The Scar

Author(s): Charlotte MoundlicIMG_4357

Illustrator/Photographer: Olivier Tallec

Publisher and Year: Candlewick Press in 2011

Number of Pages: 31

Genre: Fiction


This story began with a little boy explaining that his mother had just died and left him with just his father. The boy goes through a series of emotions and feelings like being angry that his mother left him, sad that she won’t be there as he grows up, tired from trying to take care of his father, and fearful that he might forget his mother. In the end, his grandmother, his mom’s mom, reminds him that his mother is always with him in his heart.

The illustrations in the story were an important part of this text because they helped add to the overall tone of the story and they helped to depict the feelings of the characters. For example, the color red is the primary color on every page, which can represent a variety of intense emotions such as, anger, fear, love, and passion, which are all emotions felt by the main characters. In fact, the little boy is always a different shade of red depending on his current mood, the more upset or angry he is feeling, the darker the shade of red. I also noticed that the characters sometimes have a mouth on their face and at other times there is no mouth on their faces at all. I think the illustrator did this to show that sometimes the characters may seem fine on the outside, but the text explains that they are still struggling with the loss of the mother.

I believe that this story could work well as a window for children to be introduced to and help to teach the different stages of grief. This could be especially helpful for children who have not been exposed to death to help them to understand the feelings that their friends or family members may have experienced or are experiencing. This book could also function as a mirror for children who have lost a family member, because it can help them understand that having different emotions is completely normal. None of the characters in the story have names, which symbolizes that this little boy and his father can represent all people who feel these emotions, not just this one fictional family. I also believe that it is important to note that the mother is the one who dies in this story, which leaves the little boy with his father to show a different family dynamic where there is a widowed father and his son. Overall, I believe that this is a great story to read to children to help them understand that it is okay to grieve when someone important to you has died, and that there are many stages and emotions associated with grief.

The Wall

Author(s): Eve BuntingIMG_4401

Illustrator/Photographer: Ronald Himler

Publisher and Year: Clarion Books in 1990

Number of Pages: 29

Genre: Fiction


This story is about a little boy and his father who go to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in order to find the name of the little boy’s grandfather, who is the father of the boy’s father. While the father is searching the wall for his father’s name, the little boy is looking around at the other visitors and describing the gifts left at the wall. In the end, the boy’s father traces over his father’s name that is on the wall and takes the paper home, and the little boy is proud that his grandfather’s name is on the wall but he wishes he were there.

            The images in this book do a great job of reinforcing the somber tone; for example, the color gray is used in every image, the details of the images look a bit blurry or smudged, and most of the images are not framed all the way which makes it seem like they are fading away. All the background characters drawn in this book are white but the main characters seem to be of Hispanic descent, however, they don’t look that different from the other white characters except for their dark brown hair. This instills the idea that many of the Vietnam veterans were white, which can give the impression that the white man is the hero in war and that other ethnicities were not as valuable in war. I also noticed that the two main characters were males and many of the other characters discussed in the book were males, and this also gives the wrong impression that men are to be associated with war which can also show that men are valued more than women in war and in society.

I originally thought that this book was intended as a way to teach young children about how to cope with the loss of a family member. But I realized that this book could also function as a window for children to learn about the effects of war on the more personal level, as well as, teaching them about the Vietnam War and how it impacted America as a whole. For children who have lost a family member, specifically to war, this story can be used to mirror their feelings to show that it is okay to grieve for a loved one. Overall, this story does a great job of explaining a deep message to young readers.