I'll admit (okay, brag about) my inability to read the table of contents without cackling in glee. Emma and Penelope walked in on my expressions of boundless joy, and the conversation went something like this:
Me: (emulating a pogo stick in the kitchen) Nobody Gets the Fleece! Nobody! Nobody!
Tweens: ...Um, Mom?
Me: (shoving the ToC in their faces) We're gonna meet Polyphemus! This is gonna be so cool!
Tweens: (clinging together like grapes in a bunch) okaaaay...
And it was cool.
If you have a copy of Homer's Odyssey, keep it handy. I used a kids' classic version that was shockingly disappointing in its brevity. Nevertheless, Penelope and Emma enjoyed comparing Odysseus's original encounters with each of the monsters Percy meets along his quest to rescue Grover. I found Riordan's version of the monsters accurate at the core, his adaptations clever and satisfying.
Percy's growth in the second novel is considerably greater than in the first, as it should be. This time, he has a weightier challenge before him: accepting his place as a Son of Poseidon, despite the fact it's not what he expected. Percy is building a family at Camp Half-Blood, though not everyone in that family is someone he chooses to include. Sometimes it takes Percy a while to realize the relationship is there--and longer still to embrace it--but when he does, the emotional payoff is sufficiently deep and rewarding. (Translation: hang on a second, I've got something in my eye.)
Percy is nothing if not loyal to those who support him, guide him, and love him. Better yet, he's loyal to the sense of honor and dignity that Camp Half-Blood seeks to instill in its charges. As our hero, as a demigod, and as a teenager finding his place in the world, Percy has to grow.
And he does grow.