Thursday, April 5, 2012

My Top Chapter Book Series Part 2

Here's the second half of my Chapter Book Series Favorites.  Keep in mind that this list is not exclusive, I'm always finding new books and series that I like.  For example, I just finished reading Jennifer A. Nielson's The False Prince and loved it, you can see my review here.  I'm eager to read the sequels.  So stay tuned in as I continue my search for great books.

DRAGON SLIPPERS series by Jessica Day George

Many stories tell of damsels in distress, who are rescued from the clutches of fire-breathing dragons by knights in shining armor, and swept off to live happily ever after. Unfortunately, this is not one of those stories. 

True, when Creel's aunt suggests sacrificing her to the local dragon, it is with the hope that the knight will marry Creel and that everyone (aunt and family included) will benefit handsomely. Yet it's Creel who talks her way out of the dragon's clutches. And it's Creel who walks for days on end to seek her fortune in the king's city with only a bit of embroidery thread and a strange pair of slippers in her possession. But even Creel could not have guessed the outcome of this tale. For in a country on the verge of war, Creel unknowingly possesses not just any pair of shoes, but a tool that could be used to save her kingdom…or destroy it.

A delightful series telling of Creel's adventures with dragons and a romance with a prince.  I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Creel and Shardas the dragon.  Dragons are so often the bad guys that it's refreshing to see them as fellow living creatures.  There is plenty of action as well as humor to be found in this series.
 
THE UNWANTEDS by Lisa McMann

Every year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their deaths. Thirteen-year-old Alex tries his hardest to be stoic when his fate is announced as Unwanted, even while leaving behind his twin, Aaron, a Wanted. Upon arrival at the destination where he expected to be eliminated, however, Alex discovers a stunning secret—behind the mirage of the "death farm" there is instead a place called Artime.

In Artime, each child is taught to cultivate their creative abilities and learn how to use them magically, weaving spells through paintbrushes and musical instruments. Everything Alex has ever known changes before his eyes, and it's a wondrous transformation.But it's a rare, unique occurence for twins to be separated between Wanted and Unwanted, and as Alex and Aaron's bond stretches across their separation, a threat arises for the survival of Artime that will pit brother against brother in an ultimate, magical battle.


I have a special place in my heart for underdogs, especially underdogs with kind hearts.  Alex is one such character.  I liked him from the moment it became clear that he was being rejected simply for being an artistic person.  The rejection by his twin brother that he has such a hard time accepting further endeared him to me.  I eagerly followed Alex to the fascinating world of Artime.  I confess as I read this I really wanted to live in such a place and learn such wonderful things.  I eagerly await the upcoming sequels.

THE BOOKS OF BEGINNING: THE EMERALD ATLAS by John Stephens

 Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage. Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about. Until now. Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey to dangerous and secret corners of the world...a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem.  And—if an ancient prophesy is correct—what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

The moment I  heard the title of this book I knew I wanted to read it.  Being a geography lover I was immediately intrigued by the idea of a magical atlas.  The book lived up to my expectations with lots of action and plenty of twists and turns. I look forward to lots more action in the coming sequels, the second of which comes out in October.

THE MISTMANTLE CHRONICLES by M.I. McAllister

The start of an exciting new trilogy, Urchin of the Riding Stars is an epic, Shakespearian story of murder, treachery and revenge set on the island of Mistmantle, a world of squirrels, otters, and moles. On a night of riding stars, a tiny squirrel is found abandoned and close to death on a distant beach. Adopted and raised by a kindly squirrel, Urchin has no idea of his powerful destiny or of the way he will influence the island of Mistmantle. The rule of the good King Brushen and Queen Spindle is threatened by an evil plot from within the court. When their young son is found murdered, the isle is thrown into turmoil. Behind the scenes, the wicked Lord Husk and Lady Aspen are determined to take control. But to underestimate the power of the islanders and the ancient prophecies is a big mistake….


This series turned out to have five books rather than just three, for which I was grateful.  It was hard to say goodbye to characters that I had grown so attached to.  There are a great many animal based stories out there, many of which I thoroughly enjoy, such as Brian Jacques' Redwall series, but this is my favorite.  Not only are the characters very appealing but there is lots of action and plenty of plot twists.  These books are hard to put down, so be sure to hang on tight and enjoy the ride.

THE MAD MISADVENTURES OF EMMALINE AND RUBBERBONES by Howard Whitehouse

In the kick-off novel in the Mad Misadventures series, 14-year-old pioneering aviatrix Emmaline Cayley is afraid of one thing: plummeting to her doom. Fortunately, 12-year-old Robert Burns, an indestructible village boy, is not. Absurdly unafraid of bodily harm, "Rubberbones" is the ideal pilot for Emmaline's experiments with flight. But before Emmaline can perfect a flying machine with the aid of her new friend, she is sent off to St. Grimelda's School for Young Ladies -- to be cured of her decidedly unladylike ways. It is a school so strict, so severe, so forbidding that it makes the brutal misery in the tales of Charles Dickens look cheery by comparison. With a horrifying headmistress, terrifying teachers and food that is even worse than Aunt Lucy's, this medieval stronghold also houses a terrible secret and a mysterious way of keeping its prisoners, er, its students in line. All Emmaline can think of is escape. But no one has ever escaped from St. Grimelda's. And our heroine soon realizes that the only way out is to face her greatest fear.


This series is just plain hilarious.  If you want a story that is completely believable this series is not for you.  But if you are willing to let go of believability and just enjoy the journey, I think you'll find it worth taking.  My favorite parts involve the use of an umbrella as a weapon, you'll never look at this mundane instrument the same way again.


TUMTUM AND NUTMEG by Emily Bearn

Deep inside the broom cupboard of Rose Cottage, two mice live in great style. Tumtum and Nutmeg lead cozy and quiet lives, secretly looking after Arthur and Lucy, the disheveled human children of the cottage, never dreaming that so many exciting adventures will soon find them. But when evil Aunt Ivy, a squeamish schoolteacher named Miss Short, and pirating pond rats threaten the safety of those they hold dear, the courageous pair will stop at nothing to save the day.  In three thrilling tales with charming illustrations in every chapter, Tumtum and Nutmeg--along with the valiant efforts of veteran hero General Marchmouse, Ms. Tiptoe's bouncing ballerina army, and a team of caged gerbils--prove that small-size mice can have world-size hearts.





These tales are simply delightful.  As TumTum and Nutmeg deal with evil Aunt Ivy, pirate rats, and a squeamish schoolteacher they prove they are much more than just wealthy mice.

THE BIRCHBARK HOUSE by Louise Erdrich

Nineteenth-century American pioneer life was introduced to thousands of young readers by Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved Little House books. With The Birchbark House, award-winning author Louise Erdrich's first novel for young readers, this same slice of history is seen through the eyes of the spirited, 7-year-old Ojibwa girl Omakayas, or Little Frog, so named because her first step was a hop. The sole survivor of a smallpox epidemic on Spirit Island, Omakayas, then only a baby girl, was rescued by a fearless woman named Tallow and welcomed into an Ojibwa family on Lake Superior's Madeline Island, the Island of the Golden-Breasted Woodpecker. We follow Omakayas and her adopted family through a cycle of four seasons in 1847, including the winter, when a historically documented outbreak of smallpox overtook the island.

 I enjoy reading books about other cultures and later I will create a list of some of my favorite cultural stories, but I wanted to include this trilogy because I've really enjoyed it.  It is eye-opening to get a glimpse of a way of life that is unfortunately long gone, or mostly gone anyway.  But this series gives a detailed look at the life of a young Ojibwa girl named Omakayas as she journeys to womanhood and experiences the joys and sorrows of such a journey.  I may not believe the way the Ojibwa people do, but this series helped me to better understand this culture.

ROWAN OF RIN by Emily Rodda

"Seven hearts
the journey make.
Seven ways
the hearts will break."
The wise woman's warning rings in Rowan's head as he and six companions set out to climb the forbidden Mountain that towers over their village, Rin. The stream Rin depends on has stopped flowing, and these seven are seeking the source of the problem. But no one who has tried to climb the Mountain has ever returned. Legend has it that there is a dragon at the top; every morning and evening the people hear its roar. Rowan is terrified. In a village where people pride themselves on being hardy and brave, Rowan has always been timid and shy. He is teased by the other children and belittled by the adults, who whisper that he will never be the man his father was. This dangerous journey is Rowan's chance to step out of his father's shadow and earn the respect of the village. But, frightened by the perils that lie ahead, Rowan isn't even thinking about this possibility. He's just wondering if he can survive.

There are so many long fantasies available these days for middle grade readers that many students overlook the shorter ones.  For students who simply can't read the longer books, series like this one provide an exciting journey in a lot fewer pages.  I love Rowan as a character, maybe because he is somewhat timid, like me, and yet he still finds the courage to try to save his village.  With plenty of action, yet still thoughtful, I recommend this book to those who are not yet ready to tackle the longer chapter books, but still want a great story.  Rodda also has another couple of great series out called Deltora Quest and Fairy Realm, both of which I recommend as well.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for mentioning Mistmantle--I'll try it on my little one when he grows tired of the Warrior cats!

    ReplyDelete

 
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