Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cross-bred Genre

Has anyone else noticed a surge in a new genre that seems to be a cross between fantasy and mythology/traditional tales? I have, and I love it! I hesitate to say that they are also realistic fiction, but it seems as though these books also often star a character who is a teenager that deals with "normal" problems like school, family, friends, and love. The four series that I especially like, pictured here, also take place during present day and in America. The mixture of things that we can all relate to, plus the impossible monsters and quests, make this a pretty amazing mutt! Here is a description of some of my favorite series that fall into this category:

Warrior Heir: This triology (Warrior Heir, Wizard Heir, and Dragon Heir) by Cinda Williams Chima feature kids (Jack is the main character in the first book) who are part of the magical community known as Weirland. These magical kids live among us, and many do not even know of their own powers. They have stones that are next to their hearts which give them their abilities- such as being a warrior or wizard. Soon, these kids are engulfed in the politics of the Weir, which involves brutal battles, feuding wizards, and constant vies for power.

Fablehaven: These are four books, with a fifth one coming out in 2010, are centered around siblings Seth and Kendra who discover the truth behind their grandparents' nature preserve- it is actually a preserve for magical creatures! At this preserve, called Fablehaven, they encounter both creatures of light and dark. Unfortunately, their biggest problem is off the preserve with a group called The Society of the Evening Star. These people want to release all the creatures to live and do as they want. To stop them, Kendra, Seth, and their friends must collect or protect the magical artifacts hidden around the world that also serve as a key to destruction. This series is written by Brandon Mull.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Percy doesn't understand why he is always getting in trouble, why things always seem to happen to him. Well, until he finds out that his father is actual a god, and that Greek mythology is not myth at all. Percy finally finds a place where he fits in, sort of, at Camp Half-Blood, a camp for demigods. He is helped there by his friend Grover, who he actually discovers is a satyr. In this series by Rick Riordan, Percy and his friends go on numerous quests to keep the world of the Olympians and the mortal world in balance and safe.

Alfred Kropp: Written by Rick Yancey, this series is about poor Alfred Kropp. He is what we call an antihero; he is a hero, even though he doesn't want to be. Alfred has never really known his dad, his mom recently passed away from cancer, he is not good at athletics (even though he is quite strong, he's clumsy), and he just isn't that bright. He has been referred to as the Forrest Gump of antiheroes. Alfred gets involved in a plot to steal the sword Excalibur after his uncle, and guardian, signs on to participate. While the mission goes poorly (to say the least), it is the beginning of Alfred's discovery into the truth about who he is and his destiny.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mrs. Frisby & the Rats of Nihm

Mrs. Frisby is an ordinary mouse, whose child has become ill with pneumonia. Their home in danger from the impending plowing of the fields, so she turns to her late husband's friends, the mysterious rats who live under the rosebush. She discovers the rats of NIHM are intelligent and far more sophisticated than anticipated. With intelligence comes even yet more dangers than ordinary animals face!

This Newberry Award winning book, by Robert O'Brien, is a fantastic fantasy book for young readers and I also recommend it as a re-read for adults. The themes deserve a re-read as this book can bring new meaning with every re-read. The characters are multi-dimensional and quite interesting. I also think if you love animals, this will give you more to love. I have loved this book for many years and think you will find it a favorite too!