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.


mad madpage

Title: Madlenka

Author: Peter Sis

Illustrator: Peter Sis

Publishers and Year: South China Printing Company, 1988

Number of pages: 41

Genre: Fiction

Madlenka is the story of a young girl who goes on adventures to tell the people on her street block about her loose tooth. Each new person she encounters introduces the reader to a new culture. Eventually Madlenka comes home declaring that she has been out traveling the world.

This book is a window for the reader into a variety of different cultures. On each page Madlenka meets a new friend who is from a different part of the world. They greet her in their native language and we are provided with information about that person, on the other page, that highlights important aspects of their culture. For example, when she visits her friend Eduardo, from South America, the readers learn about the landscape of his native lands. Likewise when Madlenka meets her Mrs. Kham, her friend from China, the readers learn about the Great Wall of China, Buddhism, Silk, and different ethnic foods. Although each page is in no way a complete representation of any culture, it gives the reader an insight into a culture different than their own.

Although the text is great in that it provides culturally relevant information and exposure to various languages, the images add just as much, if not more, to the story. We are able to see drawings that further represent each culture as she meets each friend. In addition to this, the book is set up so that there is a square (sometimes circular) hole in each page. These are meant to represent windows in the shops. Through these windows the reader is able to see natural landscapes that represent the various parts of the world. As you turn the page, these windows strategically place Madlenka right into the world the reader is learning about. In addition to this, after the “window” has been turned, the full-page illustration can be seen revealing an even more in-depth drawing that depicts various parts of each culture. Overall, the illustrations in this book give a rich visual understanding of each culture represented and allows the reader to experience a piece of each culture. This models appreciation for different cultures and gets the readers excited to learn more.

Harold and the Purple Crayon

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Title: Harold and the Purple Crayon

Author: Crockett Johnson

Illustrator: Crockett Johnson

Publishers and Year: Harper Collins Publishers, 1955

Number of pages: 63

Genre: Fiction

Harold and the Purple Crayon takes the reader on an adventure through the imagination of a young boy name Harold. Throughout the story, the reader witnesses Harold create an imaginary world full of adventure and peril with a single purple crayon. The story ends with Harold drawing his own bedroom around himself and falling asleep.

The story of Harold and his crayon acts as both a mirror and a door for its audience. It functions as a mirror in that it allows its audience to reflect on their own imaginative and creative tendencies. Every human has creative tendencies to one degree or another. The story of Harold fashioning an entire new world with a simple crayon has the power to awaken that within its readers. In addition to this, all people have a natural need for stability in their lives. As Harold searches for his home, the readers are able to connect with that desire and need, even if on a subconscious level. Not only does Harold’s tale function as a mirror, but it also functions as a door in that it activates and empowers its readers to boldly create and not be afraid to leave their mark on the world.

The illustrations in the book are spread across the entire page and unframed throughout the book. This invites the reader into the adventure Harold is having so that the reader might experience it alongside Harold. Also, the illustrations help to reinforce Harold as a character, as well. For example, the background is all 2-Dimensional while Harold himself is 3-Dimensional. This shows us that, despite living in a 2-Dimensional world, Harold is open-minded and less superficial. This just emphasizes Harold’s role as a creative being compared to the world around him. This is not the only way in which the illustration was intentional. One of the most consistent things about the illustrations is the purple horizon line that Harold draws as he drags his crayon across the page. However, the horizon line disappears multiple times throughout the book to alert the reader to upcoming danger.

The images in this story are a powerful addition to the text. The images show him boldly creating a world from scratch while the text depicts the adventure happening to him, as if it were something he simply stumbled upon. For example, the author uses phrases like “it turned out to be an apple tree.” This contrast shows the intentional split between being bold in our imagination and the surprise that can come when we allow ourselves to walk in such boldness and freedom of thought. Overall, this Harold’s journey offers its readers an opportunity to push the limits of their own creativity without fear of failure.

Rosie Revere, Engineer

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Title: Rosie Revere, Engineer

Author: Andrea Beaty

Illustrator: David Roberts

Publishers and Year: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2003

Number of pages: 32

Genre: Fiction

Rosie Revere, Engineer is the story of one young girl who dreams of becoming an engineer. Her dreams all come crashing down the day her uncle laughs at her invention, however. After this she retreats into her own world, too afraid to share her inventions, until one experience with her aunt, a tribute to Rosie the Riveter, changes her view of failure forever.

This story serves as both a mirror and a door. It serves as a mirror because it unpacks emotions that children constantly face in their own lives. For example, Rosie’s excitement and pride towards her talent of inventing is replaced by embarrassment and fear of failure when one of her inventions is mocked. Similarly, children who have not learned and accepted failure as a normal part of learning tend to retreat or put up defense mechanisms that protect them from the embarrassment and hurt that can come from failing or falling short of their own or even other people’s expectations of them. Therefore, this book reflects emotions that most children face on a daily basis. That being said, however, this book also serves as a door. Not only does it reflect the emotions of a situation such as this, but it empowers them to push through failure to reach true success. Adults have learned that there is often little success without failures along the way. This book attempts to be a pathway for children to learn these important lessons as well and hopefully give themselves grace along the way.

While the text in this book could easily stand alone without loosing any of its meaning, the pictures help to add the extra layer of emotions with which the reader can connect. For each scene, the emotions on the faces of the characters are heightened to add to the plot in each moment. In addition to this, bright colors are used throughout the book to depict Rosie’s excitement for her gifting, and jagged lines are used in almost all of her inventions to represent the movement required to build and operate the machinery. Overall, Rosie Revere, Engineer is a fun, lively story that teaches children the hard lesson of never giving up. They are able to finally see the benefits that can come if we simply keep trying.

Sam & Dave Dig A Hole

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Title: Sam & Dave Dig A Hole

Author: Mac Barnett

Illustrator: Jon Klassen

Publishers and Year: Candlewick Press, 2014

Number of pages: 36

Genre: Fiction

In Sam & Dave Dig A Hole, two young boys decide, after digging a small hole, to continue digging until they find something spectacular. Throughout the story, the readers watch as the two young boys unknowingly pass up many hidden treasures. The story ends when the two boys, tired from a full day of digging, fall asleep. Their dog, after smelling a bone hidden beneath the surface, continues to dig until they are all falling and land back on solid ground.

This book serves as a door for its audience. Through the adventures and determination of Sam and Dave, the reader is able see the benefits of determination and perseverance. Both Sam and Dave would have missed out on an incredible adventure had they been willing to settle with their miniature hole. As they continued on, however, they passed diamonds and other treasures in the soil. This gives the reader a reminder of the benefits of remaining steadfast rather than giving up. This being said, however, neither Sam nor Dave was aware of the diamonds that they were passing. They were digging either straight down or over (once they split ways). The diamonds were so close but the readers were the only ones to have knowledge of them. I think that this speaks to the danger of tunnel vision as we pursue any endeavor. Although they were passionate in their pursuit of “something spectacular,” they missed many opportunities of such treasures along the way. Only when their dog got whiff of the hidden treasures did he break the mold and keep digging.

The images in this book also help portray the themes. The images start out light and get darker and darker as the book goes on (until the end). The children get dirtier and dirtier causing even their faces to appear darker.   This represents their inability to see the treasures that are all around them. As they get further and further into their tunnel vision, the pictures get darker and darker. It is interesting, however, that the treasures themselves are never tainted by such darkness. They remain bright and vividly displayed within the dirt. The illustrator does an amazing job of maintaining the integrity of the theme through the illustrations. They are equally as important in this story as the text. Without these images, the readers would be as lost to the treasures as the boys are themselves. Although the pictures are needed to complete the story, the structure of the text is not without its own merit. The dialogue is simple and the sentences are short, but it almost adds to the digging effect of the story. With each short, choppy sentence you feel as if you, too, are thrusting your shovel into the dirt to find something spectacular. Overall, this book sends children a very clear message masked with the sense of adventure: never give up. Although the boys continually seemed to fall short of their goal, there were always treasures just below the surface. That speaks a message of hope to anyone who is walking through a time or season of life that requires endurance.


Author and Illustrator: Aaron Becker

Publisher and Year: Candlewick Press, 2013 (Caldecott honor)

Number of Pages: 37 Pages

Genre: Fantasy

Journey is a picture book with no words and all images. It follows the adventures of a little girl who draws her way with a red crayon to an imaginary world with a castle. The guards of the castle capture a bird that the girl sets free. The bird takes her back to reality where she befriends a boy who has the same magical crayon as her, except in purple.

This text serves as a window into the whimsical and magical world that the imagination can create. As a mirror, it allows the reader to reflect on the wonders imagination can bring when trying to escape from reality. As a door, it invites the audience to join in and participate in a fantasy world with the main character. In the beginning of the story, the girl is ignored by her parents because they are busy doing other tasks. So, the girl feels powerless and lonely in the real world. However, when she discovers the magic red crayon that can draw her anything she would like, she explores the world the crayon provides. She never draws anything elaborate, just simple things that help her in the adventures in the fantasy world. As a result, she gains power and even helps free a trapped bird that the people in the fantasy world were after (it is found out that the bird is drawn by the boy with the magical purple crayon). This can possibly be a symbol that with age, the freedom in creativity and imagination are not valued and cannot exist. It can act as a parallel the girl finds in the real world that creativity is not promoted. Once again, no exact culture is represented. Instead, the broad culture of a child and the imagination are highlighted. The author/illustrator sends the message that creativity and imagination cannot be confined. On the contrary, imagination needs freedom to allow children (and all ages) to dream and explore life in a unique ways. This adds to my understanding of culture in the sense that no person (regardless of race, religion, or gender) should be stopped from exploring the positive effects of imagination.

Perceptually, the story is all images with no words because the reader can be creative and learn worlds through images. In addition, this book is a Caldecott honor, so artwork is detailed important to the story. This would make sense because girl’s red crayon is magical and through the crayon (a symbol for the fine arts) she can explore fantasy worlds. The creations of the boy and girl are brightest colors on page and even have a different texture than the background. This stands for the magic found within the crayons and the imagination of both children. The real world is dull colors showing that imagination brings color to the world. The first two pages in book are framed meaning the girl feels confined and alone in the real world. As the story moves along, the images show travels of across the world exposing the reader to places around the world. The girl draws everything she needs being a sign that she is independent.

Through this picture book is just images, the author highlights important themes such as imagination can cope with the real world, do not limit the mind to the adventures imagination can bring, independence, explore the world, and imagination can bring friendship and unity among people.



Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me

Author: Jenny Slate and Dean Fleischer-Camp

Illustrator: Amy Lind

Publisher and Year: Penguin Group, 2011

Number of Pages: 39 Pages

Genre: Fantasy

This book is based off of Jenny Slate’s (comedian) YouTube video sensation called Marcel the Shell ( The book follows Marcel’s adventures through a house as she describes how she completes daily tasks. This book serves as a mirror to allow the reader to reflect on themselves and the talents that make him or her special. As a window, the reader is able to see life from a different perspective. As a door, this book invites the audience to be creative and find innovative ways to make things work.

This book originally caught my attention because of how much I loved the YouTube video. This video always makes me laugh and I wanted to know if the authors (they were the original video makers) would do the same in book form. The book has no specific plot, but details Marcel’s adventures in a human house. With Marcel being a shell, no exact human race or culture is represented. However, I think that makes the character more relatable because she is not limited to a specific group. In the book, Marcel tells of how she completes her daily activities. For example, as opposed to sleeping on a bed, she sleeps on a piece of bread (she calls her bedroom the “breadroom”). In addition, she refers to using a ladle as an amusement park ride. Besides having comedic relief, the book sends an important message to the reader: the positivity in being unique. As Marcel tells of how she completes tasks, she begins the book by saying, “I like that about myself and I like myself, and I have a lot of other great qualities as well” (Fleischer-Camp and Slate, 2011). Though Marcel is different, she is not afraid to embrace and use her differences and talents to help her in her way through life.

Perceptually, images take up most of space, indicating the images are more important. This makes sense because the reader can visually see how Marcel completes all her tasks. In addition, the text is written in scribble and hard to read. This tells the reader that though the text helps the story, the most important aspect of book is the artwork. Structurally, there is a full text page and then a full image page. Adding on to what was mentioned above, the authors are reiterating the importance of the images. The close-up images of Marcel and images of Marcel shows the reader that she is the main character of the book and tells the reader to pay close attention to Marcel’s unique way of accomplishing tasks. The full-page images are not framed while pages with images are framed, signaling the reader to engage with the images as opposed to the text. The most important themes this book offers are being unique is perfectly acceptable, doing things differently makes one unique, embrace one’s talents and differences, and make the most of life and what is has to offer.


Captain Jack and the Pirates

Author: Peter Bently

Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury

Publisher and Year: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015

Number of Pages: 30 Pages

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

This story tells of the tale of three boys (Jack, Zack, and Caspar) and their whimsical adventures at the beach. The three boys encounter an enemy pirate ship that has the treasure the boys are seeking. The boys get shipwrecked on an island, but still continue on “hungry for glory and enemy booty” (Bently, 2015).

The story is used as a window because it shows the imagination of younger children and the crazy adventures they can make in any kind of place. As a mirror, it reminds a reader of any age the fun and joy of using one’s imagination to create anything. Also, it serves as a door to encourage all that imagination never dies and is the opportunity to be anything one wants to be. For the most part, the power is in the hands of the three boys because they collectively create and engage in the world with the enemy pirates. As the story goes on, they do indeed find the treasure: an abundance of cupcakes, soda, ice cream, and cake. In addition, the reader finds out that the “enemy pirates” were just the adults the three boys came with, attempting to get them ready to leave the beach. This book is not very diverse in terms of skin color, with the exception of Captain Jack’s right hand man Zack (African American). Also, all the “enemy pirates” are Caucasian. As one looks through the images, the adults in the story were the boys’ parents (both Caucasian) and act as if Zack is their son. Based on this, I can say the book is a little more diverse because the illustrator is showing a mixed family. At the same time, the family has only three boys and the only female figure in the story is the mother who brings the boys ice cream at the end of the book. In this story, it is mainly a male and Caucasian culture represented. In a like manner, the culture of young children’s imagination is represented in the creative adventure of the three boys.

Perceptually, the words and text mirror one another signaling the importance of both the image and text. In addition, the pictures take up most of page but text is easy to find. This means that though the images are important, the reader can focus on the text as well. Structurally, words within the text rhyme, allowing the reader to learn a simple structure of poetry and other words. On the contrary, there are some images are colored while some are black and white. The ones with color symbolize the boys on their adventures while black and white stand for the real world. The three boys also wear similar swimsuits standing for the time period of the story and/or making them equal. In addition, the beach is backdrop for the boys’ adventure, which means their imagination, can be very creative in a simple setting. Prevalent themes from this book are imagination never dies and anyone the opportunity to be anything they want to be.


One Fine Day

Author: Nonny Hogrogian

Illustrator: Nonny Hogrogian

Publisher and Year: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, 1971

Number of Pages: 25

Genre: Fiction


IMG_3562            One Fine Day is a Caldecott Medal winner. It is a story about a little fox that gets is tail cut off by an old woman for drinking her milk. The only way he is able to get his tail back is if he brings the old woman more milk.
The fox goes to a cow and asks for milk, the cow will only give him milk if he brings it grass. The story goes on like this until an old miller man feels sorry and gives the fox what he wants and doesn’t ask for anything in return. Since the miller man gave the fox what he asked for the fox was able to give everyone what they wanted in return for something of theirs so he was able to get his tail back.

This text could function as a mirror for readers. It would be considered a mirror for most reader because it shows the fox that did something wrong and he had to do many things to fix his mistake. This is something that a lot of people can relate to. Often times people make mistakes and it can be hard work to fix the mistakes someone has made. The text also shows that everything comes with a price. People aren’t usually willing to freely give up something that belongs to them without something in return. But sometimes in life we come across people like the old miller man who selflessly gives so others can be happy. Throughout the book there is a lack of racial diversity since all the characters are White or an animal. But there is a diversity in the economically sense. There is an old woman who doesn’t seem to have much, a maiden who also has little, but then there is a peddler who seems to have a little more than the rest of the characters. Each character in the text is different and brings a different feeling to the text.

The images in One Fine Day seem to have been painted with watercolor. They are light colors and the images are beautiful. The images are unframed which makes the reader feel like they are part of the images. On every page the fox is facing right and all the other characters are facing left. This means that when each character turns down the fox, he is still moving forward and not looking back. The images make the reader feel sad for the fox when he gets turned down because it is seen that every time he get more and more sad. In the very end the fox is happy with his tail and he is able to play with his friends. I thought that this text was a very cute story, it was sad at first but when the old man gave the fox what he needed it made it a happier story.IMG_3563

Miss Sally Ann and The Panther

Retold: Bobbi Miller

Illustrator: Megan Lloyd

Publisher and Year: Holiday House, 2012

Number of Pages: 29

Genre: Fiction


            Miss Sally Ann and The PantIMG_3542her is a story about a woman named Miss Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind and her adventure with Fireeyes the panther. The story starts off talking about all the things she does which is spin yarn, make clothes, and milk cows. On day she goes into the forest and runs into the panther, they fight for days then they become good friends. The panther ends up living with Miss Sally Ann in her house and they cook, clean, play and sing together.

This text could function as both a window and a mirror for the readers. It would function as a window since it is story that will probably never actually happen in real life. So readers are on the outside, looking in at all the crazy things that are happening to the panther and Miss Sally Ann. On the other hand it could also function as a mirror for a reader if they have personally experienced getting into an argument with a friend then realizing that the fight is not worth losing the friendship. The only two characters that are in this text is Miss Sally Ann who is a White female and Fireeyes the panther, no cultural diversity is seen. I noticed that in the beginning of the story the author listed off all the chores that Miss Sally Ann does. All the chores that were listed were stereotypical female jobs. In the middle of the story Miss Sally Ann breaks the stereotypical gender roles when she fights off the panther. But at the end of the story when the panther and Miss Sally Ann are friends she goes back to doing stereotypical females chores like gardening. Besides the stereotypical gender roles throughout the text I really enjoyed this book, it was entertaining and funny.

I love the pictures that are in this book. On every page the images are all framed but unique. In the beginning when Miss Sally Ann is doing her chores the pictures are relaxed and bright. When she goes into the forest the color scheme starts to get darker. Once the panther is introduced the images are coming out of the frame making it feel more hectic. For example on page 12 Miss Sally Ann has Fireeyes by the tail and he is digging his way out of the frame and there is splatted mud all over the page. This allows the reader to feel like they are a part of the action. When the fight is over and Miss Sally Ann and Fireeyes are friends the images become more controlled and the colors again become brighter. I really enjoyed how the illustrator did this because the colors help the reader feel scared when they are fighting or happy and warm when they become friends and are sitting by the fire. Overall I enjoyed this book, I think it would be better without the gender stereotypes but it was entertaining and the images were beautiful.IMG_3541