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Friday, February 17, 2012

Adventures Through the Land of Fantasy

Photo courtesy of PublicDomainPictures.net

Do you ever feel like getting away from it all, even just for a little while?  Do you daydream about setting sail for new lands?  Does the thought of jumping into the middle of an adventure thrill you?  When I'm in the mood for something new, something completely unlike the routines of my life, chances are I'll reach for a book. (I know you're not surprised by this, LOL.)

A book can whisk me away to brand new worlds -- no visa required.  It doesn't even have to cost a thing.  I can immerse myself in it, experience the suspense, battle the villains, rely on my wits for survival -- and then simply close the book when it's time to go back to reality for awhile.

I've traveled to several different fantasy lands over the past few months.  I enjoyed my voyages through these strange worlds and recommend the following books to any adventure-seeking BookWyrms out there:

Peter and the Starcatchers,
written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, 2004...

My daughter Emmalie received this book for Christmas one year, and after reading it, she told me she thought I'd like it.  She was right!

This fantasy for middle-grade readers is a sort of prequel to J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan.  Peter and some of his friends, all orphans, are sent on the ship Never Land, to become slaves of the evil King Zarboff.  While on board, they meet up with young Molly.  She is an apprentice Starcatcher, learning how to keep "starstuff" (magic material that falls to earth) out of the hands of those who would abuse it.  Throw in some pirates, a shipwreck, and other familiar Peter Pan characters, and you have an captivating tale about how Peter came to be much more than just an ordinary boy.

This book is the first in The Starcatchers Series, which also includes Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006), Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (2007), Peter and the Sword of Mercy (2009), and The Bridge to Neverland (2011).  I have not read the rest of the books in the series yet, but I plan to!


written by Kenneth Oppel, 2004...

This book caught my eye at the library.  Later, when Emmalie saw it in my stack of materials to check out, she said, "Oh, that's a good one!"  Once again, she was right.

Recommended for 6th grade and up, this is the story of Matt Cruse, a cabin boy aboard the luxury passenger airship Aurora in a strange Victorian-era world.  Pirates and a shipwreck loom in this story as well, in addition to a determined young woman named Kate and mysterious flying creatures called "cloud cats".


The Bartimaeus Trilogy...
The Amulet of Samarkand (2003),
The Golem's Eye (2004), and Ptolemy's Gate (2005),
written by Jonathan Stroud ...

Recently Emmalie told me she had some books that I should read, and she handed me The Amulet of Samarkand.  She had read -- and reread -- the series, and knew that I would enjoy it, too.  Since then, I've finished the first two books and am now about 1/3 of the way through the third.  I'm very anxious to see how it all ends!

Set in colonial-era London, in an alternate history to our own, the series follows the life of the young magician Nathaniel (later known as John Mandrake), through the eyes of the djinni Bartimaeus (a powerful spirit who's been around for five thousand years).  Filled with mysteries, magical creatures, murder, mayhem, and a healthy dose of wry humor, this is a thoroughly entertaining trilogy.  These books are considered to be middle grade fiction; however, in my opinion, some kids may find them more difficult to read than other middle grade novels.  (They may, at least, want to keep a dictionary handy!)


The Hunger Games Trilogy...
The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009),
and Mockingjay (2010),
written by Suzanne Collins ...
I don't own the second two books (yet),
and, not surprisingly, they were all
checked out of the library, so I only
 have a picture of this one.
One day when she was in middle school, Emm came home and said, "Mom!  You HAVE to read this book!"  Her Reading teacher had assigned The Hunger Games to the class, and Emm hadn't been able to put it down.  I had the same experience.  I pretty much finished it in one sitting and then rushed to the library to get a copy of the second book!  (Much to my dismay, I wasn't able to check it out that day -- I had to put my name on a long waiting list.)  Since that time, I've read all three books, have reread the first, put my name on another waiting list so I can reread the second and third books, and am anxiously awaiting "The Hunger Games" movie coming out next month!  In case you can't tell, this trilogy is one of my all-time favorite series. :)

This young adult trilogy takes place in a bleak post- apocalyptic world where the Capitol holds absolute power over the 12 districts of the Panem nation. Every year, the Capitol hosts The Hunger Games, a required and televised battle of survival between twenty-four adolescents, a boy and a girl chosen by lottery from each of Panem's districts.  Only one can win; the rest will perish.  

The story follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to be the female tribute for District 12 when her younger sister's name is unexpectedly chosen.  Katniss and Peeta, the male tribute from District 12, are taken to the Capitol with the rest of the tributes.  Together, they must find a way to survive The Hunger Games.  Suspense, grief, triumph, and more -- this is a series that will stick with you long after you've read it.


Have you read any of these novels?  If so, what did you think of them?  What other fantasy books do you enjoy?  I am always happy to hear recommendations!


  1. I REALLY want to read the Hunger Games Trilogy, I've heard only great things about them!

  2. Oh no! Now there are MORE books on my to-read list! I LOVE the Hunger Games as well. It's how we've gotten a lot of our kiddos to read! Yay! (I'd go so far to say it's the Harry Potter of this generation.)

  3. My to-read list is constantly growing longer, too ~ no matter how much I read! :)