Dragons, Fairies and Magic!Oh My! Fantasy GenreBy Alexandra Doyle Bauer, Rachel Franklin,Elizabeth Goode, Judy Neebe, & Carrie Wilson
What isFantasy?“Fantasy itself is like a dragon,now that I think about it.Given its size and its lack ofaerodynamics, a dragonshouldn’t be able to fly, but,magically, it does! In the sameway, fantasy flies off the pageand into the imagination--another kind of magic.” -SarahPrineas, author of The MagicThief
Definition of Fantasy: A work of fiction that commonly uses magic in the central characters, plot and/or setting Based in supernatural or imaginary worlds Usually distinguished from Science Fiction by not being based in scientific theory or elements Has strong connections to mythology and folklore Common features are: talking animals or objects, magical powers and/or medieval or mythical elements If you’re not sure, ask yourself, “Are there wizards, dragons or fairies?” If yes, then you’re reading fantasy.
According to LuAnn B. Staheli, fantasy is “the stuff of dreams…[it] is a part of children’s lives from the moment they are born…children experience the vivid world of fantasy, perhaps in a richer way than most adults realize or remember…It gives them a distance from reality that provides a safe place to explore.”
Elizabeth GoodeFantasy Book Selections Libr264, Fall 2011
Fablehaven Mull, Brandon. (2006). Fablehaven. New York: Simon & Schuster. Plot: A sister and brother must stay with their eccentric grandparents when their parents go on a cruise and find that their family is one of the few protectors of the last safe havens for magical beings. When evil attacks and takes their grandparents, Kendra, will have to find a way to save them all. Review: Believable characters and interesting mythology tie-ins. The plot’s pacing is off in a few places, but not to a point that takes away from the enjoyment of the book. Reading Level: Age 10+ Awards: Colorado Children’s Book Award Master List, Indian Paintbrush Book Award (WY), Nevada Young Reader’s Award, Lambda Literary Award Finalist, Land of Enchantment Children’s Master List (MN), Nene Book Award Master List (HI), Pacific Northwest Young Reader’s Choice Award Master List, Soaring Eagle Book Award Master List (WY), Volunteer State Book Award (TN) Series Information: Fablehaven series includes Rise of the Evening Star, Grip of the Shadow Plague, Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary, and Keys to the Demon Prison
The Magic Thief Prineas, Sarah. (2008). The Magic Thief. New York: Harper Trophy Plot: A pickpocket accidentally takes a wizard’s magic stone. When discovered, instead of punishing the boy, the wizard takes him on as an apprentice to help him solve the problem of the depleting magic in Wellmut. Review: This was quick-paced and exciting. I like the two narration perspectives that let you know how the wizard feels about the boy without exactly having to tell you how he feels. Reading level: Age 8+ Awards: Golden Sower Award & Rhode Island Children’s Book Award Series Information: The Magic Thief series includes The Magic Thief: Lost and The Magic Thief: Found
How to Train Your Dragon Cowell, Cressida. (2003). How to Train your Dragon. New York: Little, Brown and Company. Plot: Hiccup is the son of a Viking Chief and the pressure is on when he goes to pick a dragon to train. Unfortunately, he grabs a Common Dragon who is stubborn and small for his size. This doesn’t stop them from battling two giant sea dragons in an attempt to save their village. Review: This book had the requisite kid humor of feather filled bras and nasty dragon comments to get the kids laughing. The illustrations add to the light humor and quick-pacing of the story. This is a good transitional book from Early Chapter to Chapter. Reading level: Age 8+ Awards: Translated into an award winning major motion picture Series Information: The “How to” series includes How to be a Pirate, How to Speak Dragonese, How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse, How to Twist a Dragon’s Tale, A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons, How to Ride a Dragon’s Storm, How to Break a Dragon’s Heart, and How to Steal a Dragon’s Sword.
Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest Haig, Matt. (2007). Samuel Blink and the Forbidden Forest. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. Plot: After their parent’s death, Samuel and Martha must move in with their Aunt Eda in Norway. After Martha ventures into the forbidden forest, Samuel rushes in after her forcing Eda to face her fears and hunt after the children. Samuel and Martha must fight the evil Professor Tanglewood to regain control of the forest. Review: Funny, action-packed, quirky characters, believably nasty villain. All-in- all a good fantasy novel for the types who like the idea of magic being just hidden from our reach in the real world. Reading level: Age 9+ Series Information: The sequel is Samuel Blink and the Runaway Troll
The Last Unicorn: Graphic Novel Beagle, Peter S. adapted by Peter B. Gillis. (2011). The Last Unicorn. San Diego: IDW Publishing. Plot: A unicorn wonders where the rest of her kind is and wanders into the world to find them. After being trapped by a witch, she is saved by a magician who joins her on her quest. She is transformed into a lady but must find her mission again to save the others like her and the kingdom of Haggard. Review: The illustrations are great, but the story is more of an appetizer to the original novel as some parts seem rushed over or don’t make sense at all until you can get to the end and piece it all together. For those who enjoyed Rapunzel’s Revenge, this would be a great choice. Reading level: Age 12+ Awards: New York Times Best Hardcover Graphic Novel List
Rachel FranklinFive Fantasy Favorites! Libr264, Fall 2011
The Graveyard Book Gaiman, Neil. (2008) The Graveyard Book. New York: HarperCollins. Plot: Bod has been growing up in a graveyard, being raised by ghosts after his family was killed by the man Jack. Yet he feels like he is different and yearns to experience the real world. He has been warned never to leave the graveyard because of the dangers that await him. Bod doesn’t take the warnings seriously and decides to see what lies outside the gates in the world of the living. It is only then that he finds himself wishing he had never left. Review: A real page turner with magical, mysterious, supernatural and terrifying elements that will entertain readers of all ages. Bod’s life in a graveyard is anything but ordinary and is filled with adventure and learning. Readers will love how mischievous yet endearing Bod is. Many of the things he learns from ghosts in the graveyard are historical stories that the readers will to be interesting. Reading Level: Ages 11+ Awards: 2009- Hugo Award for Best Novel, Newbury Medal, Locus Award for Best YA Novel & 2010- Carnegie Medal
Tuck Everlasting Babbitt, Natalie. (1975). Tuck Everlasting. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux. Plot: Its when Winnie decides to take a walk in the woods near her house, that she meets a young boy in a clearing drinking water from the ground. He and his family are the Tuck’s and live in these woods. They take her to their house and reveal their secret to her that has never been told before. Their secret sounds like a fairy tale, how can it possibly be real? Unknown to them, is the man in the woods, who overhears everything and plans to use this knowledge to his benefit. Winnie is forced to make a decision about her future that would most likely change her life forever. She must stop the man, from spreading the secret, but now the Tuck’s are also in danger, it is up to her to choose what is right. Review: This fantasy book is set in the 19th century and explores the topics of immorality and magic. This is a light book, yet makes the reader think about its concepts and messages afterwards. This book implies that living forever is not everything one would hope for and what if everyone found out about the secret? Winnie makes an important decision in the book that will effect the rest of her life. Reading Level: Ages 10+ Awards: Janusz Korczak Medal, 1976 Christopher Award Best Book for Young People, Selected as an ALA Notable Book, Horn Book Magazine Fan Fare List
A Wrinkle in Time L’Engle, Madeleine. (1962). A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers. Plot: Meg’s parents are brilliant scientists and her father has been away on an assignment but has been missing for months. Her little brother, Charles Wallace, meets three older ladies who one night transport Meg, her brother, and their friend Calvin to a different part of the universe. From there, the quest to find Meg’s father becomes the most important task at hand. Together they must forge through different planets and time spheres, and it will be up to them whether Meg’s father returns home safely. Review: Some of scientific terminology may make it a difficult read for younger readers to understand, but the sense of adventure and time travel play solid roles throughout the book. Through this book the reader will enter worlds they have never dreamed of. The author combines a coming of age book with family values and scientific adventure. Awards: Newbury Medal, Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, Sequoyah Book Award, Runner-up for Hans Christian Andersen Award Series Information: A Wind in the Door (1973), A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978), Many Waters (1986), An Acceptable Time (1989)
Artemis Fowl Colfer, Eoin. (2002). Artemis Fowl. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. Plot: Artemis Fowl is a twelve year mastermind, who is unlike any other boy his age. For a human, he is has more knowledge of things than any other person. His new quest is to save his family’s fortune and get gold from the Fairy People. When he kidnaps Captain Holly Short from the Fairy People, he knows his plan is fool proof. In actuality the Fairy People are much more advanced than he anticipates and he realizes that this is going to be a tougher job than he initially thought it would be. Review: This is an action packed book that is narrated from Artemis Fowl’s point of view and the fairies. The book keeps you wondering which side to choose as well as guessing possible endings. The dual narrating between the humans and fairies changes your perspective of the book and keeps each part interesting. Very Entertaining and fast paced read! This book has also been made into a graphic novel based on the book with future releases as well for the series. Reading Level: Ages 10+ Awards: 2004 Young Readers Choice Award Series Information: The Arctic Incident (2003), The Eternity Code (2004), The Opal Deception (2005), The Lost Colony (2006), The Time Paradox (2008)
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory Dahl, Roald. (1964). Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. New York: Knopf. Plot: Charlie Bucket is the luckiest boy around when he finds a golden ticket in a chocolate bar that is good for admission to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory that just happens to be in his home town! Charlie is one of 5 winners who all come from different places, and act much different than Charlie. Charlie chooses to bring his Grandpa Joe with him for the tour. Each winner is promised a lifetime supply of chocolate if they can complete the tour without misbehaving. Willy Wonka has Oompa-Loompas who help run his factory, rooms dedicated to creating the newest candy inventions, chocolate lakes, etc. As they begin to tour the factory, strange things start to happen to those who misbehave. Charlie knows that he will be able to behave himself, because he would love the to have a lifetime of chocolate! But there are many temptations in the factory that even he will have a hard time resisting. Review: This book is full of imagination and will delight the reader from the beginning until the end. Entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is a dream come true for most children who love candy and dream of being a winner of a golden ticket like Charlie Bucket. Some of the punishments the winners receive in the factory may seem harsh to younger readers. This book has been made into two major motion films in 1971 and 2005. Reading Level: Ages 10+ Awards: 2000 Blue Peter Book Award, 2000 Millennium Children’s Book Award, 1973 Surrey School Award, 1972 New England Round Table of Children’s Librarians Award Series Information: The Glass Elevator (1972)
Carrie Wilson A Collection of Five Fantasy Books Libr264, Fall 2011
Gregor the Overlander Collins, Suzanne. (2003). Gregor the Overlander. New York: Scholastic. Plot: When eleven year old Gregor’s baby sister Boots falls into a laundry chute one day, the protective Gregor follows after her. The siblings are transported into the Underland, an alternate world populated by humans with translucent skin, silver hair and purple eyes. They live in the kingdom of Regalia, which is threatened by giant rats (Gnawers). Other creatures in this highly divisive land include cockroaches (Crawlers), Spiders (Spinners) and bats (Fliers). Gregor meets Luxa, a haughty, brave girl around his age, who will become Queen of Regalia when she turns sixteen, and her grandfather Vikus, who leads the governing group of Regalia. Gregor tries to find his way back home, but he learns of a man held prisoner by the rats (who may be his father, who disappeared a few years ago) and a stunning prophecy. Gregor the Overlander may be destined to save the Underworld from the destruction at the hand (and teeth) of the Gnawers.
Gregor the Overlander Review: This dark fantasy is fast-paced, well-plotted and imaginative. It will have broad appeal to boys and girls, action fans, fantasy fans and even to general readers. This is a great selection for all tweens and may also appeal to teens, particularly fans of the Hunger Games, who will be eager to explore a more fanciful (but equally dark) side of Suzanne Collins. This series is best suited to fans of alternate-world and talking animal fantasies, but even self confessed chick-lit fans have touted the Underland Chronicles. This book is critically acclaimed—it was positively reviewed in Booklist (starred review), SLJ, Kirkus, the Horn Book, VOYA and Publishers Weekly. Reading level: 5th grade, Ages 9-13 Awards: Nutmeg Book Award Nominee ( Intermediate) 2006; Maud Hart Lovelave Book Award Nominee (Grades 6-8) 2007; North Carolina Children’s Book Award Nominee (Junior Book) 2007; Young Hoosier Book Award Winner ( Intermediate): 2007 Series Information: Gregor the Overlander and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, Gregor and the Code of Claw
Ella Enchanted Levine, Gail Carson. (1997). Ella Enchanted. New York: HarperCollins. Plot: Ella of Frell was given a gift by the fairy Lucinda- or, rather, a curse. Ella must be obedient to every command, even if it harms her. Ella, fortunately, has figured out how to follow the letter of the law, if not its spirit—most of the time. When Ella’s mother dies, she is sent to finishing school with two her two horrid future step-sisters, Hattie and Olive. Hattie begins to catch on to Ella’s suspicious obedience, and orders her to give up her mother’s necklace—and her best friend. These events, combined with Ella’s budding romance with Prince Charmant make her determined to break this curse of obedience. Ella embarks on a dangerous quest to find a fairy that will break the spell. Review: Ella Enchanted is a fresh re-telling of Cinderella—with a twist. Ella Enchanted is a fractured fairy tale; some characters have been re-imagined, and the plot takes some unexpected turns, even while including traditional elements of the Cinderella tale. Hand this Newbery Honor (1998) book to tweens searching for smart heroines and solid, fun fantasy. Ella Enchanted appeals strongly to girls, even those who don’t read much fantasy because of the familiarity most tweens have with the Cinderella tale. Readers will recognize familiar elements of the Cinderella story (the evil step-mother and wicked stepsisters, the handsome prince, and the fairy godmother) and be pleased by Ella’s spunk. This book was very well- received—it was reviewed positively in School Library Journal, Booklist and Horn Book. Reading Level: 4.6, Ages 9-14 Awards: Newbery Honor (1998); California Young Reader Medal Award 2000; Hoosier Book Award Winner 2000
Graceling Cashore, Kristen. (2008). Graceling. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Children’s Books. Plot: Lady Katsa is a graceling in the Seven Kingdoms. A graceling can be easily recognized by their different colored eyes and extraordinary gifts. Some graces are merely entertaining—some have the grace of singing, others have the grace of storytelling—and others, like Katsa’s, are dangerous. Katsa has the grace of killing—with her bare hands. Katsa killed her first man when she was just eight years old. After this, she was forced to become the hitman of her uncle, King Randa, a cruel and manipulative ruler. This is contrary to Katsa’s nature. Despite her terrible grace, she is not a killer, nor does she want to be a tool of a corrupt ruler. She clandestinely forms a group that undermines those that abuse their power. When rescuing the father of king, she meets her match in the form of Prince Po, a man whose grace makes him a fighter equal to Katsa. Review: Graceling is a beautifully written, original, compelling, action packed tale with unforgettable characters and plot twists. Despite Katsa’s terrible grace, she is a mesmerizing, complex protagonist. Recommend this title to fantasy fans, particularly fans of Tamora Pierce. Graceling is not for all tweens—hand it to older, more mature tweens, teens and adults, girls and boys. There is a stronger appeal to girls because of elements of romance. Read- alikes: Fans of Graceling may enjoy Maria Snyder’s Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study. Other titles to suggest include: Protector of the Small series and the Hunger Games trilogy. School Library Journal starred review; an ALA Best Book for Young Adults (2009); Booklist starred review; positive reviews in Library Journal, VOYA and Publisher’s Weekly. Reading level: Grades 7 and up. Awards: William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist: 2009; Indies Choice Awards Honor Book, 2009; Cybils Finalist--Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Teen/YA: 2008; California Young Reader Medal Nominee (Young Adult) 2012; Rhode Island Teen Book Award Winner (Ages 12 & Up) 2011 Series information: Seven Kingdoms Trilogy: Fire (2009), Bittersweet (Future release)
First Test Pierce, T. (1999). First Test. New York: Random House. Plot: Ten years ago, in the Kingdom of Tortall, a decree was written allowing girls to train to become knights. No one had attempted to do so, until a ten- year-old noble girl, Keladry (Kel) of Mindalen steps forward. Kel was raised in the Yamani Islands, where she was trained by Yamani warriors, who view showing emotion as a liability. Her older brothers are knights, and Kel has no interest or aptitude in “ladylike arts.” A noble girl her age would normally go to a convent school. Not Kel. Her path is complicated by the one year probation period placed on her by the training master of the pages, Lord Wyldon, who does not want girls to become knights. The already brutal training conditions for pages are amplified for the stoic, determined Kel by several male pages who resent her and bully her relentlessly. Eventually, Kel’s chivalry and bravery endear her to some of her fellow pages, but her trial is not over. When the pages must join together to fight the Spidren (immortal beasts who feed on human blood), Kel faces her toughest test yet.
First Test Review: Kel is a likeable underdog, and easy to root for and the medieval fantasty setting l is richly imagined, complete with threatening monsters, magic, and valiant heroes. It is not necessary to have read Pierce’s previous series that take place in Tortall; in First Test, Pierce has created a world that is accessible to first-time Pierce readers. First Test garnered positive reviews from Booklist, VOYA, Horn Book and School Library Journal. Reading level: 5th grade, Ages 9-13 Series information: The Song of the Lionness, The Immortals, The Protector of the Small, Trickster, Beka Cooper Trilogy, which is a prequel series. The third book of this trilogy will be released on October 25th, 2011.
The Doll People Martin, Ann M. & Laura Godwin. (2000). The Doll People. Illustrated by Brian Selznick. New York: Hyperion. Plot: Annabelle Doll is not your average dollhouse doll. She and her family are living dolls, and have been for over a hundred years. Life has been uneventful for eight-year-old Annabelle in her Victorian dollhouse, which has passed down to 8-year-old Kate, ever since her Aunt Sarah had gone missing forty-five years ago. Annabelle, frustrated that no one has ever tried to find her beloved aunt, finds Aunt Sarah’s journal and begins to unlock clues about her disappearance. When a new, modern doll family arrives in the Palmer house, life changes for the Doll family forever. Annabelle meets another living doll, Tiffany Funcraft, who becomes her first real friend. The Funcrafts are sturdy plastic dolls, perfect for Kate’s younger sister. This modern family, however, poses a threat to the Dolls quiet existence, for they don’t understand the importance of the Doll Code of Honor. Ignoring this Code is dangerous for living dolls—they could fall into permanent doll state, rendering them forever inanimate.
The Doll People Review: This fantasy about living dolls is suspenseful, imaginative and peopled with well-drawn characters. Children who read this book will be entertained and enriched by the growth of the characters and the satisfying conclusion. Hand this titles to young tween girls who enjoy reading fantasy. Some read-alikes include: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo; The Indian in the Cupboard series by Lynn Reid Banks; Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field (1930 Newbery Medal Winner). Awards: Named a PW best book of the year. Positive reviews in SLJ, Kirkus, PW, Booklist, Horn Book. Reading Level: 4th grade, Ages 9-12 Series Information: The Meanest Doll in the World (2005), The Runaway Dolls (2010)
Judy NeebA Collection of Five Fantasy Books Libr264, Fall 2011
James and the Giant Peach Dahl, R. (1961). James and the Giant Peach. New York: Puffin Books. Plot: Unexpectedly, young James Trotter finds himself without parents, living with two horrible aunts. As he struggles with a lonely and miserable life, James is given a magic bag by a mysterious old man. From this brief encounter, James is thrust into a new magic world where insects become best friends and where adventure is just the beginning. Review: With illustrations provided by Quentin Blake, Roald Dahl’s classic adventure of magic and friendship continues to enchant anyone of any age. Though magic is used to bring James adventure life, the true story lies in the adventure of friendship that James shares with his new insect friends inside a magical enlarged peach. Dahl’s charm lies in his ability in creating a mythical world in which while there is wickedness, there’s always something that can overpower it to create something amazing and wonderful. (Please note that in the many different printed editions of James and the Giant Peach, there have been five different illustrators) Reading Level: Age 8+ Awards: While this book has not been listed for any major awards, it has been frequently challenged or banned due to its slightly frightening content. Series Information: While James and the Giant Peach, was a solo story, many of Dahl’s children’s stories are told from a fantastical point of view. A constant theme of Dahl’s has been that there are children who must deal with some form of adversity who are assisted through fantastical or magical means.
Coraline Gaiman, Neil. (2002). Coraline. New York: HarperCollins. Plot: Coraline and her parents have moved into a quiet home that has been converted into apartment units. Facing boredom, Coraline explores her new home and her new neighbors. In her exploration, she finds a key to a door that leads to her “other” parents. Now Coraline must decide which “family” is the safe one and which is the one that will change her forever. Review: Coraline is a story that will ignite the imaginations of those who love a little horror in their fantasy. As Coraline is faced with boredom in her new home, the concept of curiosity is embraced by the characters as a positive thing even if that might have negative consequences. Young readers will relate to Coraline’s story, in that the connections between child and parent can be frustrating. In the end, what matters is the love that is shown unconditionally. In the original publication, artist Dave McKean provides twisted illustrations that enhance the story. In the graphic novel adaptation, artist P. Craig Russell combines dreamy illustrations with realism to bring this fairytale to life. Fans of comic books and graphic novels will enjoy the art and use of color throughout Russell’s adaptation. Reading Level: 9+ Awards: Coraline won an Eisner in 2009 for best Publication for Teens/Tweens for the graphic novel adaptation, as well as a 2003 Hugo and Nebulla award for Best Novella. It has also won a Bram Stroker award for Best Work for Young Readers.
Bone: Out from Boneville Smith, J. (2005). Bone: Out from Boneville. New York: Scholastic Press (Graphix) Plot: Three cousins, Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone, are forced out their home of Boneville, thanks to some poor scheming on Phoney Bone’s part. As they search for a way out each, the cousins are separated and find adventure in a new land. They are later reunited at a farm run by Gran’ma Ben and her granddaughter, Thorn. Yet, a dark cloud covers this reunion as the true adventure for the Bone cousins has barely begun. Review: Thanks in part to Smith’s cartooning background, the art for Bone flows like an animated feature and the pacing of the story is quite smooth. The Bone cousins are a delight and the supporting characters are brought in with just enough mystery that readers will be asking for more. The complete series of Bone is an epic on par with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. Fantasy lovers and comic fans will rejoice in this beautiful tale of adventure, love, danger, and family. Reading Level: 10+ Awards: Smith has won multiple Eisner and Harvey awards for his writing and illustration work. Bone, as a single issue story line and as a collected work, has also won multiple Eisner and Harvey awards. The Eisner and Harvey awards are the achievement awards given to those in the comic book industry. Series Information: Bone: Out from Boneville is the first in a nine installment series. Scholastic has re-published the Bone series using colorization from the original black and white. A complete collection of the series is available through author Jeff Smith’s personal publishing outlet, Cartoon Books. There are also many Bone spin- off series created by Jeff Smith that follow the further adventures of the Bone cousins or stories providing background to other characters of the Valley.
Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil Smith, J. (2007) Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil. New York: DC Comics Plot: Billy Batson is an orphan living alone on the streets. When Billy meets the wizard Shazam, he is given a special magic word that allows him to transform into Captain Marvel. As Billy adapts to his new role, strange creatures have appeared in the city. Captain Marvel and Billy must face this new threat as good and evil fight for control. Review: Jeff Smith’s new take on the origin story of Billy Batson and Captain Marvel is a great option for anyone curious about comic books and graphic novels. Parents who might be dealing with picky readers will enjoy the use of cartoon-style art mixed with fast-paced prose that never falters in its pacing. Smith delivers a great superhero/fantasy story that highlights how comics and graphic novels are still great ways of telling wonderful stories. Reading Level: 10+ Awards: Though Shazam! The Monster Society of Evil has not collected any awards, the writer and illustrator of the book, Jeff Smith, has won multiple Eisner and Harvey awards for his Bone series. Series Information: Though this collected edition of Shazam! was only a solo story, there are many different other Shazam! Stories, as well as kid-friendly comic stories, available through DC Comics’ kids publishing line, Johnny DC.
Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 Petersen, D. (2007). Mouse Guard: Fall 1152. Hollywood: Archaia Studios Press Plot: Kenzie, Saxon, and Lieam serve the Mouse Guard, a proud and noble group of mice who protect and guide against outside danger and the predators of the land. During a mission to find a missing merchant, the three brave mice discover treachery amongst the mice communities. By maintaining their code and honor, these three brave mice must fight to save Lockhaven, the home of the Mouse Guard. Review: Fans of Brian Jacques’ Redwall series will rejoice in this beautifully drawn series. Petersen’s art provides modern storytelling that is still surrounded by a medieval presence. The battle scenes are skillfully drawn and the characterization of the mice reflect their struggle to survive. The pacing for the plot is handled quite nicely, creating a slow build to the final battle scene. Reading Level: 10+ Awards: The series has won two Eisner awards, one being for “Best Publication for Kids” in 2008. Series Information: Mouse Guard was first released in single-issue formats, with collected editions later printed after each story arc. There are two collected editions with the Fall 1152 storyline being the first, followed by Winter 1152. Petersen has been working on a prequel and has plans on continuing the series in the future.
Alexandra Doyle Bauer Fantasy Selection for Tweens Libr264, Fall 2011
Eragon Paolini, C. (2003). Eragon. New York: Random House. Plot: Eragon, a young boy, discovers a dragon egg yet he does not know what it truly is. The egg was magically transported to the place the boy finds it by an elf. She is trying to protect it, as evil forces are trying to obtain it. The plot takes a turn when Eragon’s uncle is killed and so the young boy must venture out on his own. He befriends a man who knows all about dragons and teaches him the lessons. As this man, Brom, knows the secrets of the Dragon Riders. The dragon, Saphira, and Eragon end up having a special bond. Through their travels and adventures the two become a fierce team. Through many fights against evil, some captures and escapes, and by helping the prisoner elf Arya the boy begins to understand that he is more important than he ever though possible in this great battle of good versus evil. Review: Although there are several components of the book that may sound familiar to readers, the fantasy story about a teenage boy finding a dragon egg is really fun and exciting. The book is a good read and with a mixture of magic, dragons, and adventure it has all the makings of a great fantasy novel. Reading Level: Ages 10+ Awards: This book has won many awards over the years since it was published. Some of the most honorable mentions are the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Book Award (2006) and the Book Sense Book of the Year (Childrens Literature Winner, 2004). Series Information: The Inheritance Series includes Eldest (2005), Brisingr (2008), Inheritance (2011)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Rowling, J. K. (1997). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York: Scholastic, Inc. Plot: Harry Potter is the boy who lived. He is an orphan living with his aunt, cousin, and uncle. The Dursley’s are not very nice people. Harry is about to turn eleven years old and this marks the beginning of the biggest change in his life so far. He begins to receive letters, many many letters, from an unknown sender. The letters are intercepted by his uncle and burned so he never knows what they say. In order to escape these strange letters coming by owl, the family takes a vacation to a remote island. However, once there a huge man named Hagrid shows up to inform Harry that he is one of the most gifted wizards in the world. Harry has been accepted to Hogwarts, the esteemed School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and he is to go right away to prepare for the upcoming year. While en route on the Hogwarts Express train he befriends two students, Ron and Hermione, who become his best friends. With the help of his new friends and the headmaster, Professor Dumbledore, Harry learns the truth about what happened to his parents and what dark forces are awaiting the world. Harry must use all of his strength and new found resources in order to fight the evil that is trying to kill him once and for all. The evil has a name, even though the witches and wizards call him He Must Not Be Named, it is Voldermort. Review: The great beginning to the series of Harry Potter provides the reader with what happens during Harry’s first year at Hogwarts. The series takes us all the way through his schooling years and provides all the details about why and how the battle between good and evil has progressed. Harry and his friends are brave and kind characters. The book is dramatic, answers questions and even leaves more questions unanswered. That is the mark of a great series though, to be able to leave the reader wanting more from these characters who eventually become familiar friends to the reader as well.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Reading Level: Ages 9+ Awards: Among the numerous awards this book has received I have listed a few notable ones herewith: Carnegie Medal Shortlist (1997) , Nestlé Smarties Book Prize (Gold Award, 9-11 years category, 1997), and the ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1999). Series Information: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (1998) - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban (1999) - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2000) - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005) - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007)
The Golden Compass Pullman, Philip. (1996). The Golden Compass. New York: Random House. Plot: The tale begins with Lyra and Pantalaimon (her dæmon, an animal version of a person’s soul) in Oxford where she is listening to a conversation she is not supposed to be involved with. From this she gather. information about the journey she is about to embark on. She must find her friend Roger, who has been taken by the Gobblers. There are elements of loyalty, secrecy, and intrigue in this book. There is a magic compass, called an alethiometer, which plays an important role in helping Lyra find her way. The story not only has talking shape-shifting animals, it has armored bears, Gyptians, and the mysterious Dust. Lyra’s travels take her from being an innocent young girl in London to becoming an informed and aware girl in Svalbard and beyond. Review: The book starts with the tale of a young girl and her dæmon. At first it seems that this is just a pet but it turns out that the connection that the animal and person has is crucial to their existence. The magical elements abound in the novel and the travels take Lyra all over the world. The aspects of other worlds and religion play heavily in the story. Reading Level: Ages 12+ Awards: The book has won a range of awards and honors since it was published. A few of the many include the ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1997), the Carnegie Medal (1995), and the Guardian Childrens Fiction Prize (Joint, 1996) Series Information: His Dark Materials Trilogy include The Subtle Knife (1997) - The Amber Spyglass (2000)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Lewis, C. S. (1950). The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. London: HarperCollins Publishing. Plot: Four siblings living in their uncle’s home begin an adventure that spans their lives. The youngest, Lucy, find another land through a door in the back of a wardrobe. The path to Narnia takes her on a journey that she could never expect. Peter, Susan, and Edmund, along with Lucy, are prophesized to become saviors of Narnia. The real king is Aslan, the lion, who is all loving and has magical powers. Edmund makes a pact with evil The White Witch and this causes many issues for the children and Narnia. The fight to save Narnia takes many turns and is eventful until the last scene. The children have been in Narnia for many years and they grow into adults. Yet when they are returned to the lamppost they find that things have not changed as much as they thought. Review: This riveting books is great for all ages, both young and old can enjoy its great details and charm. There is some religious connotation that I did not find as a child when I read this book, yet it does not make it a religious story by any means. The good versus evil theme is something that resonates beyond the decades and I think this book and the entire series will be a favorite for many generations to come. Reading Level: Ages 9+ Awards: This title has won many modern awards but one from 1950, David Pringles Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. Series Information: The Chronicles of Narnia Series includes Prince Caspian (1951) - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952) - The Silver Chair (1953) - The Horse and His Boy (1954) - The Magicians Nephew (1955) - The Last Battle (1956)
The Twelve Dancing Princesses Miles, Ellen. (2003). The Twelve Dancing Princesses. New York: Scholastic, Inc. Plot: Julian is a poor orphan who has dreamed of marrying a princess his whole life. When he learns of the King’s desire to find out how his twelve princess daughters are getting out each night to dance the night away and wear out their shoes every night, he sees his chance. The king will grant any man who finds out the truth the hand of one of the girls and the kingdom. Julian travels from his home to the palace. On his way to the palace he encounters a lady in need of help. Julian assists her and in return she presents him with some magical items. He takes the magic laurel saplings and continues on his journey. Once there is a given a job as a gardener’s boy and he gets to make the princesses fresh bouquets of flowers each day. As he figures out what he must do to find out the secret to all of the dancing the girls are doing he turns to the magic trees to gain help. The magic trees present him with a flower that makes him invisible. He follows the princesses on several occasions and discovers their secret. They are under an enchanted spell and must dance every night at an elaborate ball put on by a vindictive and powerful woman. Julian figures out a way to let the princesses keep doing what they love so much, dancing, and helps the king solve his problem by breaking the spell. Review: This book is an adaptation of a classic princess tale with a romantic theme. The story catches the interest of young girls everywhere who want to be a princess and for young boys who want to save the enchanted princesses. The story of the old king who wants to protect his daughters by banning dancing is sad and powerful, as the love for his family is driving him to do anything in his grasp to find the cause of the daughters worn out shoes. This book is great for young readers as it is not scary or horrific in any way. It is just a lovely story with a happy ending. Reading Level: Ages 8+ Awards: While no awards have been given to this particular version, this story dates back to the original by the Grimm Brothers from the early 1800’s.
Book Talks! Elizabeth: Samuel Blink & the Forbidden Forest http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXvt5k_ycf0 Rachel: Tuck Everlasting http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/WsJRXh1ejb/ Carrie: Gregor the Overlander http://studio.stupeflix.com/v/TVTVuMRLDU/ Judy: Bone: Out of Boneville http://youtu.be/O7RkwqzInys Alex: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone http://youtu.be/776KM2Y7bTs