‘Sea of Monsters’ best female characters in summer movie for kids

Finally, I saw a decent movie today (with my two older kids along with a cousin): “Sea of Monsters.” Afterwards, my seven year old said, “I just want to watch the beginning again and again.” I loved the beginning too! It’s all about how Thalia, the daughter of Zeus, gave up her life to save her three friends: Annabeth, Luke, and Grover. Here’s the actress who plays young Thalia. I can’t find a good shot from the movie.


As a result of Thalia’s bravery, instead of dying, she’s transformed into a tree. The tree provides a magic barrier to protect Camp Half Blood. The plot of “Sea of Monsters” is that this tree is poisoned, so not only is Camp Half Blood vulnerable to monsters, but Thalia is dying. In order to save Thalia, the Golden Fleece must be recovered.

Annabeth, daughter of Athena, is the one who realizes the golden fleece is what is needed to save Thalia. The daughter of the goddess of wisdom, Annabeth is the smart one. Her role as the courageous, brilliant best friend of the hero, Percy, is similar to Hermione’s role in the Harry Potter series.


A third strong female is Clarisse, daughter of Ares, the god of war. Clarisse is ambitious and competitive.

For these three characters, I encourage you to take your kids to this movie, though I wouldn’t take a kid under 6. But, I don’t want to mislead you. “Sea of Monsters” is Percy’s movie. He is the hero. The quest of recovering the golden fleece is actually assigned to Clarisse, but when she can’t pull it off, guess who steps in to save the world? The way Percy takes over Clarisse’s quest really annoyed me in the book. It annoyed me slightly less in the movie, because the way this is presented, instead of it being all about Percy, it’s more like Clarisse realizes she needs to work with others. It’s great to see Clarisse be the one to place the fleece on the tree; her important action restores Thalia to life.


Kids watching “Sea of Monsters” not only get to see one girl helping another, but the whole movie is driven by Annabeth’s friendship for Thalia. “Sea of Monsters” is one of the very few this year to pass the Magowan Test for Gender Bias in Children’s movies. The Magowan Test is inspired by the Bechdel test. The criteria is (1) At least two females who are friends (2) go on an adventure (3) and don’t wear revealing clothing.

This movie is kind of cheesy. I don’t know why the special effects look so fake as opposed to the Harry Potter movies or the Lord of the Rings movies. Also, while the books are really funny, and the pacing is perfect, the humor doesn’t work in the movie. Scenes that are supposed to make you laugh are just goofy. That said, if I had to pick one movie to take kids to this summer, “Sea of Monsters” would be it.

Reel Girl rates “Sea of Monsters” ***H***

Rick Riordan and the persistence of the Minority Feisty

My nine year old daughter is tearing through the Rick Riordan books for the third time. Third time. She’s obsessed. She reads them at breakfast and then in the car on the way to school. She’ll forget the book at school and beg me to go to the bookstore down the street and buy her another because she can’t imagine getting through the night without huddling under her covers, reading, with her flashlight. Of course, I refuse, so she calls up her seven year old cousin who is also addicted and asks to borrow it. She won’t give it up because she’s reading it.

Middle Grade experts recommended that I read Rick Riordan since I am writing an MG book and he has “perfect pacing.”

I read the first three and liked them very much. The characters and stories are compelling, and I’ve always loved Greek Mythology, though there is a challenge for female characters in a series based on legends of a patriarchy. That patriarchy is not something in the background but an integral part of the narrative. In the three books I read, there is a lot of talk about “the big three:” Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. When I blogged about Lightning Thief, I rated it ***H***.

There is a strong female character, Annabeth. It is striking how similar the gender ratio and relationships are to the Harry Potter series: two boys and a girl who are BFFs. This is the essence of the Minority Feisty set up: there is a girl and she is strong, so we can all sigh with relief, but she is not the protagonist. She helps the male on his quest.

I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, but but there are so many Riordan books, and so many covers. Let’s check them out and see what they have in common.

The Lightning Thief:


Here’s the movie poster from 2010:


Sea of Monsters, the second book in the series:


Here’s the movie poster, coming out this year and shown in Reel Girl’s Gallery of Girls Gone Missing From Children’s Movies in 2013. On Google, you can find posters with Annabeth, but I doubt that is the version our kids will see around town. This movie, like the Harry Potter movies, prominently displays the male protag’s name.

Percy Jackson 2 Sea of Monsters

Next in the series is The Titan’s Curse and the cover shows a solo male astride a magical creature. It’s a beautiful, exciting image and a thrill females in the imaginary world rarely get to experience:


Battle of the Labyrinth:


The Last Olympian:


So that’s the first Riordan series: 5 books, 2 movies, male protag/ male star, male solo on 4 out of 5 books. Male’s name in the title every time. Once again, I am a fan of Riordan. These books are great. But just imagine your kids– girls and boys– getting the opportunity to read a fantasy series of 5 books with a female protag, her female BFF and male BFF helping her on her quest. And just to be clear, this series is the definition quest narrative.

Girls fare better in the Egypt series: The Red Pyramid is narrated by siblings Sadie and Carter. Though there are more males than females, there is another very cool female, Zia. I wish the book was all about her. The cover is good, too. Sadie makes it on, though behind Carter.

Riordan_Red pyramid

And now, my favorite Riordan cover: Throne of Fire.



The Serpent’s Shadow also has a pretty great cover:


The next Riordan series, Heroes of Olympus, goes back to the standard Minority Feisty imagery. Here’s the first cover. See those three on the cover? They are not Percy, Annabeth, and Gus. They are Jason, Piper, and Leo. Guess who the protag is?

The Lost Hero

In Son of Neptune, Percy is the protag again, and this time, his friends are Hazel and Frank. It’s remarkable how consistent, persistent, and repetitive the Minority Feisty model is in the imaginary world.


Are you ready for the next one, and this is the BEST one, really according to my daughter and her aunt: Mark of Athena. YAY. A female makes it into the title! There are 7 main characters in this one and 3 are female. Less than half, so still the Minority Feisty, but not a bad showing for the consistent sexism in fantasy kidworld, right? But check out the cover:


WTF? No girl riding a pegasus and the owl of Athena fading into the background. ARGH!