Posts Tagged ‘john stephens’

Rowling, J.K.  (1998).  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  New York, NY: Scholastic.ALA Notable Children’s BookInterest Level: 5-8Reading Level: 5.3Genre: FantasySubjects: Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Wizards, Witches, Schools, England, Fantasy, Friends, Death, Teachers, MagicHarry Potter:1 – The Sorcerer’s Stone2 – The Chamber of Secrets3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban4 – The Goblet of Fire5 – The Order of the Phoenix6 – The Half-Blood Prince7 – The Deathly Hallows

Rowling, J.K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York, NY: Scholastic.
ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 5.3
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Wizards, Witches, Schools, England, Fantasy, Friends, Death, Teachers, Magic
Harry Potter:
1 – The Sorcerer’s Stone
2 – The Chamber of Secrets
3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban
4 – The Goblet of Fire
5 – The Order of the Phoenix
6 – The Half-Blood Prince
7 – The Deathly Hallows

“Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.” – Ron

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in a series about an 11-year-old boy wizard named Harry Potter. His world contains people unaware about magic called Muggles and a hidden society of magic. As an infant, Harry was left with his mother’s sister and her family, Harry grows up not knowing about magic, the world of his parents, and is treated horribly by his relatives. He is teased by his cousin Dudley, called names by his Aunt Petunia, and is forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs by his Uncle Vernon. Yet, all is about to change as Harry receives an invitation on his eleventh birthday to attend Hogwarts, a famous school of magic, and the remainder of the book covers the attendance of his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

From the start of his journey, Harry is continually amazed by the new and unusual things he sees and learns, particularly the fact that he is a natural flying on a broom. Even more, as he continues to meet these magical people, he discovers new friends and family he never had. As part of his new world, Harry has to deal with its evil elements. There are those who hate the non-magical Muggles. One of the most notorious and recent was Lord Voldemort, the wizard who murdered Harry’s parents and tried to kill Harry as an infant. In fact, this led to Harry being famous in the magical world, where he is known as “The Boy who Lived”, and, Lord Voldemort has not been heard of since the murder of Harry’s parents.

During the first school year, Harry Potter is curious about an item being hidden at Hogwarts, the Sorcerer’s Stone. Along with his new best friends, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, they discover the location of the Sorcerer’s Stone with additional hints slipped by the school’s keeper of grounds, Hagrid. It is here that Harry battles an ally of Lord Voldemort, Professor Quirrell and even has a confrontation with the evil wizard himself. Lord Voldemort as everyone anticipated was dead has actually living off of the essence of unicorn blood. And as the first book (first year of school at Hogwarts) concludes, Harry has cemented wonderful relationships with friends and mentors (the headmaster Professor Dumbledore and the head of the Gryffindor House, Professor McGonagall), and is already excited for his second term (book two: The Chamber of Secrets).

The Harry Potter series, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone contains as much magic capturing the interest of the readers as magic within Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling has created a set of characters that you want to follow on their journey, as you cheer for them, laugh along with them, share in their wonder and magical lessons, and even experience their fright. J.K Rowling created characters in which readers of any age will easily be able to identify with whether they are Muggles or magical folk, and the settings are described in fluid detail that imagining such places comes with ease. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone also created into a film that helped popularize the series even further. Most fans of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone most likely will/have enjoyed reading Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, the newer series The Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce, His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, Children of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo, and Books of Beginning by John Stephens.

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unwanteds

McMann, L. (2011). The Unwanteds. New York, NY: Alladin.
Interest Level: 3-6
Reading Level: 5.4
Genre: Dystopian Fantasy
Subjects: Creative ability, Magic, Brothers, Twins, Fantasy, Social problems, Self-confidence
The Unwanteds:
1 – The Unwanteds
2 – Island of Silene
3 – ?

“The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.” – Kirkus Reviews

Identical twins Alex and Aaron, on their 13th birthday, like all citizens in Quill are sorted into their classes at the annual “purge” as either a Unwanted, Wanted, or Necessary. The Wanteds become politicians who are given an education, the Necessaries live in poverty and are uneducated, and the Unwanteds are artistic individuals like Alex Stowe who was caught drawing in the dirt with a stick. It’s uncommon for twins to be sorted as opposites, but in the case of these two, Alex, an artistic type is deemed an Unwanted, and his brother Aaron, politically focused is a Wanted. Alex, like all the Unwanteds is sent to the “great lake of boiling oil” to meet his death, or so that’s the fate of all the Unwanteds as the citizens of Quill believe it to be. But, rather, the Unwanteds are transported to Artime’, a world created by Mr. Today, a safe haven in which they can nurture their artistic gifts and become magical warriors at a school filled with odd and quirky teachers and strange creatures. Artime’s existence is threatened due the bond Alex has for his brother Aaron, though not mutual, and as war unfolds the battle lines are drawn between creativity and that of strength and intelligence, Quill and Artime’, and brother against brother.

Who would not be excited thinking of a dystopian adventure fantasy in which a society is divided and the worlds in many ways mirror two highly popular books series? Quill the equivalent of Panem in The Hunger Games, and Artime the equivalent of Hogwarts in Harry Potter. Paint brushes used in place of wands and death at a young age not due to killing games set up like a reality TV show but rather sentenced to the Death Farm. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann presents a highly descriptive and imaginative new series that fans of Harry Potter and The Hungers Games will be eager to read. This is a story about acceptance, a lesson worthy of being told for readers of any age. The second book, Island of Silence is as exciting and quickly paced as the first in the series. Other novels that may be similarly enjoyed include Children of the Red King (aka Charlie Bone) series by Jenny Nimmo, Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, Books of Beginning by John Stephens, and The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann.

Stephens, J. (2011). The emerald atlas. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 4.9
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Siblings, Magic, Time travel, Monsters, Orphans, Prophecies
The Books of Beginning:
1 – The Emerald Atlas
2 – The Fire Chronicle

Witches, wizards, dwarves, and time traveling orphans, oh my!

Siblings Katherine, Emma, and Michael are dropped off at an orphanage when they were very little by their parents. They are transferred from the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans to a mysterious orphanage in the magical town of Cambridge Falls where these children are the only three in existence. It is run by Dr. Stanislaus Pym, a magician, yet they don’t know that at the time. While exploring the house, they discover a study where they find a green book, yet all of the pages are blank. When Michael puts a picture into the book, they surprisingly travel 15 years into the past to the time and place of the picture. With the magical time traveling book (one of the three Books of Beginning), their Polaroid camera, and their own wits, the siblings are able to fix the unfortunate history of Cambridge Falls. As they are transported back and forth through time they encounter a wicked Countess that needs a special child so she can rule the world, The Dead City, dwarves, and The Screechers who want to kill them. They also befriend Dr. Pym when he was younger (he knows a lot about siblings past), children of the town from the past, and Gabriel. Overtime they realize that they are part of a bigger quest against evil and have a larger part to play as the story does not end with The Emerald Atlas.

Each character is unique, strong, well defined, and each has distinctively different roles to the story. Kate, Michael, and Emma’s strengths are their devotion to each other, their belief in their parents’ love for them, and their desire to do the right thing. Kate is protective and mothering as the oldest sibling. Michael is a bookworm and is obsessed with dwarves, and Emma, the youngest sibling is feisty and quick to prove she’s older than she actually is. All three are unusually intelligent and insightful for their ages. The Countess finds pleasure in hurting others, even children. Dr. Pym, the Countess’ nemesis is far more powerful than he leads on, and Gabriel is the one villager willing to help Kate, Michael, and Emma, and willing to stand up against the Countess when no other adults will.

The Emerald Atlas is an exciting fantasy with spine-chilling villains, surprising plot twists, magic, humor, and likeable, fun characters. This is a story of the strength of family bond, friendships that knows no barriers of age or race, and debates the notion of one’s destiny (common in fantasy) is an individual’s choice. Fans of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, and Reckless by Cornelia Funke will love John Stephens Books of Beginning, The Emerald Atlas and the sequel, The Fire Chronicle.