2. Gods & Heroes by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda
1. The Elements by Theodore Gray.
Yes, it is a picture book. But the clever humor and art references would be lost on wee ones. Middle graders who have had an introduction to art in school, will grasp the full charm of this gem.
There is nothing in this for the parents, except maybe a slightly better grasp of the game your kid can't stop playing. But this book is one of a set of four that keep migrating off the bookshelf, and down towards the computer, so there must be something good in there.
Once your child is hooked on Percy Jackson, try this tome. It covers Greek mythology rather thoroughly, but with a modern touch/irreverence. Describing Dionysus's birth, for example, "Must've hurt like crazy, but Zeus stuffed the baby into his thigh just like he was putting him in the pocket of a pair of cargo pants. Then he sewed his skin shut. Guys....do not try this at home. It won't work."
A pop up book for middle graders. Covers some Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Norse, Eastern and Native American mythology. Each page has a giant pop up, plus several smaller surprises to uncover.
Unexpectedly compelling book about the periodic table (unexpected in that neither Boy Reader nor I are all that into Chemistry, yet we couldn't put the book down). The pictures are clear, bright and detailed. The writing caters to science-y kids without overwhelming. For example, one section starts with, "HANG ON TIGHT, we're going to explain quantum mechanics in one page. (If you find this section too technical, feel free to skim it -- there isn't going to be a quiz at the end.)"