Fantasy Books for Kids

By Patrick Sullivan

YOUR DEEPLY ENCHANTED child (or you yourself–it’s OK; we won’t tell) has burned through all three Harry Potter books with the speed of a Quidditch player on a runaway broomstick. The last page is turned, the last book is shut, and now the question is simple: What next? Fear not: the possibilities are nearly endless. There’s no need to take the long step down into the mass-produced mediocrity of the Animorphs or Goosebumps. Rich realms of children’s fantasy lie as close as the nearest library or bookstore. Of course, nearly everybody knows about J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books (which may be too heavy-duty for some young people) or the Narnia Chronicles by C. S. Lewis. But here are a few your eager reader may not have yet discovered.

The Chronicles of Prydian Set in the mythical land of Prydian, which bears a strong resemblance to Wales, this five-book series tells the story of an assistant pig-keeper named Taran who longs for adventure and finds it in the shape of a heroic struggle to defeat the evil Arawn Death Lord. The series, which begins with The Book of Three, is distinguished by all kinds of good qualities: The books offer sophisticated writing and skillful use of humor, marvelously rich characters, including a strong and witty heroine named Eilonway, and an intriguing magical world based on author Lloyd Alexander’s deep knowledge of Welsh mythology.

The Dark Is Rising Susan Cooper’s classic series mixes Celtic mythology with deeply human characters any teenager can empathize with. When dark forces threaten the earth, Will Stanton and the other young heroes and heroines of these books must discover the magic power to stem the tide.

Earthsea A reckless young boy grows up to become the most powerful wizard in Earthsea in Ursula K. Le Guin’s four-book series. Magic in these stories is a subtle, modest matter that revolves around the power of language and naming. The primacy of words is only to be expected in a book by Le Guin, one of the 20th century’s most gifted writers of fantasy.

The Wind Series This award-winning quartet by Madeleine L’Engle begins with A Wrinkle in Time. On a stormy night, an unearthly visitor arrives to send awkward teenager Meg Murry and her younger brother Charles Wallace on a quest across space to find their missing father and battle a cosmic evil.

From the October 28-November 3, 1999 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.