Monday, April 27, 2009

Are You Missing Harry Potter?

I know Harry Potter is supposed to be a children’s book, but I was just as engaged and enthralled as the most avid 10-year-old, and I really miss looking forward to the next installment of the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermoine. So I’ve done some checking around to see if there are other authors and titles that would at least come close to the reading fun that J.K. Rowling’s books brought to so many folks.

The Young Wizard series by Diane Duane is the closest I can come to books that might satisfy a Harry-o-phile and also appeal to adults as well as teens and children. The first title, So You Want to Be a Wizard (1982) introduces us to Juanita “Nita” Callahan and Kit Rodriguez. While running away from some bullies, Nita runs into her refuge, the public library and stumbles upon a book she’s never seen there before entitled So You Want to be a Wizard. As she begins to read, she discovers that she is, in fact, being asked to train and learn to become just that –a wizard. After some serious soul-searching, she takes the “wizard’s oath,” – and her life is never the same again. There are currently 8 books in this series, but the first is the best, and I highly recommend it.

Susan Cooper wrote a series of books steeped in Celtic legend and myth that drew my attention when I was a teacher. The best of this series is The Dark is Rising – the story of Will Stanton, the 7th son of a 7th son who, on his 11th birthday, becomes one of the Old Ones. As Will gradually learns about his powers and how to manage them, he and his friend, Merriman, are drawn into a mystical battle against the Dark. The Dark is Rising is actually book 2 in the series, but once again it is the best – and you do not have to have read book 1 for it to make sense. There are 5 books total: Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark is Rising; Greenwitch; The Grey King, and The Silver on the Tree.

And finally, a series that I have just now begun - the Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer. Novelist describes Artemis Fowl as a “ twelve-year-old evil genius [who] tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold. The fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll. “ As in Harry Potter, the characters are unique and cleverly drawn. Captain Holly Stark, a LEPrecon Officer (Lower Elements Police Reconnaissance) is a miniature police officer for the fairy folk who live underground; Mulch Diggums is a kleptomaniac dwarf with an ingenious (and rather gross) method of digging underground; Foaly is the LEP’s technological genius who just happens to be a centaur; and of course, Artemis, himself – a combination child prodigy and evil mastermind.

Quite frankly, none of these books created the anticipation or following that Rowling’s did, but each provides a good read and a trip to a land where wizards (or children) fight evil and succeed.



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