Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 13
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
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“Step Into Medusa’s Lair”: Cotsen Event Will Bring Greek Mythology to Life

Ellen Gilbert

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1: The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan’s popular children’s tale of Greek mythology and adventure, is the theme of this year’s Princyclopedia, an interactive book convention hosted annually by the Cotsen Children’s Library. The all-ages event will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 9, in Dillon Gymnasium. No registration is required for the program which is open to the public free of charge.

“We promise to do it justice,” said Education and Outreach Coordinator Dana Sheridan. “Step into Medusa’s lair, talk tactics with Greek warriors, taste nectar and ambrosia straight from Olympus, take a ride (literally!) on the Minotaur, enjoy a “Pegasus-eye” view of Princeton, and adventure in the amazing world of mythology, magic, art, history, and clashing titans of Ancient Greece!”

The Lightning Thief is the first book in the pentalogy, Percy Jackson & the Olympians. It was the basis of a film called Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, which was released in the United States and Canada in February of 2010.

“Percy (for Perseus) Jackson, the narrator of The Lightning Thief, lives with his mother and abusive stepfather, the aptly named Gabe Ugliano,” wrote Polly Shulman in her 2005 New York Times review of the book. “He never knew his real father. A troubled student teetering on the brink of special ed, he suffers from dyslexia and A.D.H.D. — or at least, that’s what his guidance counselors have always told him. But after his pre-algebra teacher turns into a harpy and tries to kill him, his mother risks her life taking him to a summer camp where she hopes he’ll be safe. There he finds out just how special he really is.”

Previous Princyclopedia themes include the Harry Potter series (2007); Aladdin and the Middle East (2008); Alice in Wonderland (2009) and Treasure Island (2010).

This year’s list of guests and contributors includes the Arts Council of Princeton, the bent spoon, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD Mercer County), the Princeton University’s Departments of Hellenic Studies and Philosophy, the Program in Classical Philosophy, The Dyslexia Center of Harpist Alison Simpson of Westminster Conservatory, and the Historical Society of Princeton.

Other participants include JaZams, Labyrinth Books, The Lizard Guys, Music Together Princeton Lab School, Nassau Helicopters, Princeton Astrobiology Club Princeton Center for Complex Materials, Princeton Chemistry Outreach Program, Princeton Engineering Education for Kids, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, Princeton Public Library, Princeton Tour Company, and Princeton University Students.

Free parking for the event will be available near Dillon gym in Lot # 7. Driving directions to Princeton can be found at

For information about accessible entrances to Dillon Gym, contact Erin Metro at 609-258-5144 or

The Lightning Thief is perfectly paced, with electrifying moments chasing each other like heartbeats, and mysteries opening out in sequence,” wrote Ms. Shulman of the book. Imagine a Princyclopedia inspired by it.

For additional information visit

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