Pros:funny, good lesson, fun pictures
Cons:several major characters have no part in the story
The Bottom Line: It's tough to be a teen, especially when you've got superpowers...
When I hear the phrase "Lightning Strikes," my first thought is generally of Lou Christie's rather demented pop hit about the tug-of-war between propriety and hormones. While young Hercules doesn't have girls on the brain in the Disney's Storytime Treasures Library book Lightning Strikes, he, too, must deal with internal conflict. Ultimately, this, too, is a story of self-control.
Recommend this product?
Lightning Strikes is the 11th book in the series, and like several of its other installments, it was written by Ronald Kidd, while Peter Emslie and Eric Binder provided illustrations. This story is a bit more text-heavy than others in this series, but it is still largely driven by the illustrations, which faithfully recapture the look of the film. Since it takes place during Hercules' adolescence, several characters are not in the picture. The main ones here are Hercules himself, his faithful flying steed Pegasus, his ornery trainer Phil and his father Zeus.
Zeus is the mightiest of the gods in the Greek pantheon, and Hercules wants to take his place alongside him, but first he must learn how to be a true hero. The trouble is that he is always in such a rush to demonstrate his super-strength that he doesn't think through what he should be doing. As the mishaps pile up, particularly once he gets his hands on one of Zeus’s lightning bolts, the chances that he can curb his impulses to be genuinely heroic seem pretty slim.
Of the books in this series that I have read, Lightning Strikes is definitely the funniest. It's a comedy of errors as Hercules struts his stuff without putting any thought into his actions, exasperating Phil, who peppers him with snarky remarks. Hercules demonstrates the typical abandon of a teen, but his heart is in the right place, and when a crisis unfolds, it's time to put that training to good use. The conclusion of this story is both funny and clever, and it drives home the point that it is important to think before acting.
The pictures here are a lot of fun, as are Phil's comments. The combination of the two clearly shows what a mess Hercules is capable of causing when he isn't careful. Phil really does steal the spotlight here, but Hercules is a great character as well, and Pegasus, one of my favorite Disney animal sidekicks, has a regal place of prominence on almost every page. I also like the poem at the end of the book, the end of which advises, "Always think, and think some more before you use your might!"
Many of the books in this series focus on the value of friendship. While Hercules' relationship with Phil is important here, what’s more significant is his understanding of himself - of what he can do and what he should do. Children who are just figuring that out for themselves should find value in the entertaining Lightning Strikes.
This review is a part of the All Things Disney Write-Off and the Lean and Mean X Write-Off.
Thanks to Stef for adding this to the database.