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Find more Top 10 Fantasy Books for Youth
Another year’s worth backs up last year’s statement that youth fantasy literature is far richer than is youth science fiction. Below is another mixed bag of titles, selected from the youth fantasies reviewed in Booklist between May 15, 1998, and this issue. Most genre fans are sure to find something to please them.
Almond, David. Skellig. 1999. Delacorte, $15.95 (0-385-32653-X). Gr. 5–8.
Who is Skellig? Or what? Shocked when he discovers the ragged, dusty man existing on dead flies in the garage, Michael enlists the help of his new friend, Mina, for the difficult mission of keeping Skellig alive. The story, grounded in the reality of Michael’s worry about his baby sister’s chronic illness, is an amazing piece of work that raises more questions than it answers, offering accomplished readers much to admire and to ponder.
Avi. Perloo the Bold. 1998. Scholastic, $16.95 (0-590-11002-0). Gr. 5–7.
Avi’s gentle, heartwarming, and humorous animal fantasy involves a very unlikely hero—Perloo, an unassuming scholar—and the threat of war between longtime enemies, the Montmer tribe of jackrabbitlike creatures and the Felbart pack of coyotelike ones, as well as schemes and double-dealings.
Barron, T. A. The Fires of Merlin. 1998. Putnam/Philomel, $19.99 (0-399-32020-3). Gr. 7–10.
Although this third entry in Barron’s Lost Years of Merlin saga is best read within the order of the series, it is a rich addition to a saga that just keeps on getting better as it continues the adventures of the young Merlin struggling to realize his full powers and meeting more challenges.
Jacques, Brian. Marlfox. 1999. Putnam/Philomel, $22.99 (0-399-23307-5). Gr. 5–8.
What would an annual top-10 list be without an entry from Jacques’ wildly popular Redwall series? This eleventh book has all the charm, verve, humor, and conflict of its predecessors, as the good folk of Redwall Abbey go to battle against the vicious Marlfox family.
Jones, Diana Wynne. Dark Lord of Derkholm. 1998. Greenwillow, $16 (0-688-16004-2). Gr. 7–12.
Here’s one that sticks with you: it’s an often slapstick spoof of all kinds of fantasy conventions set in an alternative universe where Pilgrim Parties from our Earth have for years been wreaking havoc by forcing the weary kings, lords, wizards, and others to role-play as the forces of the Dark Lord or the Forces of Good in order to provide exciting vacations for the tourists.
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Sang Spell. 1998. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $16 (0-689-82007-0). Gr. 6–9.
In a masterful tale of mystery, magic, and madness, recently orphaned Josh finds himself in Canara, a rough-hewn village with no modern amenities, where he discovers the residents are descendants of a fugitive band of early settlers who were forced deep into the Appalachian backwoods. How deep? When Josh tries to sneak away, he finds that both road and river somehow lead him back to Canara.
Pattou, Edith. Fire Arrow. 1998. Harcourt, $17 (0-15-201635-X). Gr. 7–10.
This strong sequel to Hero’s Song (1991) can stand on its own as the rousing story of master archer Breo-Saight (Brie), whose birthright is a magic fire arrow given to her mother by Brie’s mysterious great-grandmother—and which seems to have an agenda of its own.
Pierce, Tamora. Circle of Magic: Briar’s Book. 1999. Scholastic, $15.95 (0-590-55359-3). Gr. 6–9.
The fourth in Pierce’s satisfying, carefully crafted Circle of Magic Quartet retains the saga’s high quality and raises the danger and pace to a fever pitch as former street urchin Briar and his fellow mages Daja, Tris, and Sandry artfully combine their talents in ways that continue to astound their mentors as they search for the cause of a deadly plague sweeping through Summersea.
Pullman, Philip. Clockwork. Illus. by Leonid Gore. 1998. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.95 (0-590-12999-6). Gr. 4–7.
Combining elements of Frankenstein, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Faust, this is a deliciously spooky story in which a storyteller’s tale of a king with a heart made of clockworks becomes horrifyingly real when a hooded, menacing figure from the tale enters the inn where the tale is being spun.
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. 1998. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.95 (0-590-35340-3). Gr. 4–7.
A brilliantly imagined and written first novel that’s been a smash hit in the U.S. as well as Britain incorporates elements of traditional British school stories while never sacrificing the fantasy element as orphan Harry Potter learns he is a wizard. A Booklist Editors’ Choice 1998.
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