Hour of the Olympics
This fantasy adventure book by Mary Pope Osborne is the 16th in the " Magic Tree House" series and is published by Random House.
Hour of the Olympics is written for kids ages 5 to 8. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
As Jack and Annie walk to the magic tree house, they worry that this might be their final mission. When they question the magical librarian Morgan Le Fay about this, Morgan doesn't answer their question directly. Instead, she prepares the children to recover the fourth lost story. She shows the siblings a story title written in Greek script and gives Jack a research book about ancient Greece.
When they arrive at their destination, they see an olive grove and white tents. Jack researches the scene in the book and learns it is the site of the ancient Olympics. As they near the Olympic grounds, Annie notices that she doesn't see any girls. They finally see a woman on stage at an outdoor theater but realize the actor is actually a man when he pulls a wig off his head. They learn that women in ancient Greece were not allowed to act. They are leaving the theater when they run into a man who is somewhat surprised by Annie's bold act of walking through Olympia. He introduces himself as Plato.
When Jack shows Plato the name of the lost story, Plato recognizes the name immediately and ushers Jack and Annie into the courtyard of the author's home. Plato tells them that they must never reveal this poet's identity and leaves to find the poet. As the children read more from their research book, Annie is astounded to learn that Greek girls are not allowed to attend school.
Plato returns with a young woman holding a scroll and introduces her as the secret poet. The poet tells Annie that she taught herself how to read and write. Plato explains that the woman will get in trouble if the poem is read in Olympia, so they give the scroll to the children and ask them to take it to their land. As they leave the house, Annie becomes disheartened about Greek society and the things girls are not allowed to do. She tells Jack she is ready to leave.
Jack reminds her about the Olympics, which excites her, and she decides to stay. When Plato tells them that Annie cannot attend because she is a girl, Annie thinks the situation is unfair. Jack agrees with Annie and says they will go home, but Annie insists that Jack attend the games while she returns to the play at the outdoor theater. Although he is unsure about leaving Annie alone, Jack goes with Plato to the Olympic grounds.
On the way, Plato shows Jack the gymnasium where the athletes train and takes him into Zeus' temple. Plato tells Jack that the games are played in honor of Zeus, who is the head over all the other gods and goddesses.
The trumpets announce the start of the Olympic parade, so Jack and Plato hurry to the grounds. While Plato points out the different athletes and their events, Jack looks up from his notes and finds Annie dressed as a soldier with a helmet hiding her face. Though Jack shakes his head and even shouts at her in an attempt to make her leave the grounds, Annie refuses and turns to watch the chariot race. During the race, she becomes excited and begins to jump and shout. Her cape falls off, and she removes her helmet. Two guards realize she is a girl.
At first Annie is surprised when the guards grab her, but she quickly becomes angry and fights them. When Annie yells to Jack to get the lost story, he pulls out the scroll, holds it to the sky and shouts. The story is supposed to help them in their darkest hour. The crowd grows silent as a huge white horse pulling a chariot appears.
After Annie breaks free from the surprised guards, she and Jack run toward the horse and climb into the chariot. As the horse races away, Jack notices it has grown wings, and they are now soaring through the air. Annie tells the horse to take them to the tree house.
Back in their own time, Morgan tells Jack and Annie that they have brought back the story of Pegasus, the winged horse of Greek mythology. Morgan explains that each character from the lost four stories can be seen in the stars. She shows them the constellations and the Milky Way.
Morgan lets the two know that they will have many more missions, and that she will send for them when their next mission is ready.
Other Belief Systems
In this series, there is a tree house that is magic. Jack and Annie can see it, but others can't. Morgan le Fay is an enchantress and the owner of the tree house. Her magic allows the tree house to transport Jack and Annie through time and into imaginary worlds. They go to the places they find in the pictures of books that are within the tree house. In a previous book, Morgan le Fay has asked them to recover four items from different time periods and stories.
Greek mythology is briefly explored. Plato instructs Jack on the athletes' belief in Zeus. As Plato and Jack pass an olive tree, Plato says it is a sacred tree to the Greeks. He also shows Jack a statue of the goddess Nike. He then escorts Jack into a temple with a two-story-high statue of Zeus, which is referred to as the mighty Greek god. Jack feels small and says hello to the statue in a small voice.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Why does Annie become upset when she learns that girls are not allowed at Greek schools?
- Why does the mystery poet want to use the name Anonymous?
- In Bible times, Jesus treated girls with love and respect even though others did not.
How are women in our country treated today?
What do Plato and the Greek athletes think about Zeus?
- Is Zeus real or only a statue?
- Have you ever seen a large statute?
- What was it made of?
- What did it look like and feel like?
What's the difference between a statue and God?
What is the story about Pegasus called?
- Do horses really fly?
- How is a myth different from a story in the Bible?
- What is your favorite Bible story? Why?
- Why does God want us to know Bible stories?
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