monsters, superpower human beings, supernatural elements
capture our imagination. Here are some of the latest in
Knopf; August 2003
Here's a great big fantasy that you can pull over your head
like a comfy old sweater and disappear into for a whole
weekend. Christopher Paolini began Eragon when he was just
15 and the book shows the influence of Tolkien, of course,
but also Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey, and perhaps even
Wagner in its traditional quest structure and the generally
agreed-upon nature of dwarves, elves, dragons, and heroic
warfare with magic swords. Eragon, a young farm boy, finds
a marvelous blue stone in a mystical mountain place. Before
he can trade it for food to get his family through the hard
winter, it hatches a beautiful sapphire-blue dragon, a race
thought to be extinct. Eragon bonds with the dragon, and
when his family is killed by the marauding Ra'zac, he discovers
that he is the last of the Dragon Riders, fated to play
a decisive part in the coming war between the human but
hidden Varden, dwarves, elves, the diabolical Shades and
their neanderthal Urgalls, all pitted against and allied
with each other and the evil King Galbatorix. In spite of
the engrossing action, this is not a book for the casual
fantasy reader. There are 65 names of people, horses, and
dragons to be remembered and lots of pseudo-Celtic places,
magic words, and phrases in the Ancient Language as well
as the speech of the dwarfs and the Urgalls. But the maps
and glossaries help, and by the end, readers will be utterly
dedicated and eager for the next book, Eldest.
Laure Leaf; September 2002
Praise and controversy precede this powerful story of a
boy confronting the hidden truth about his futuristic society.
Winner of the 1994 Newbery Award, Lowry's story sparks emotion
and response from adults and children alike. This is a compelling
prospect for family listening. Initially Rifkin's voice
seems too regional to portray the characters of this utopian
world, but he convincingly conveys the anticipation of the
coming-of-age ceremony of Jonas and his friends. As the
meaning of Jonas' selection as "Receiver of Memory"
unfolds, Rifkin's characterizations become more powerful.
Although the story drives the presentation, Rifkin's juxtaposition
of the young boy and the old Giver has tremendous effect.
His voice for the Giver becomes increasingly weary and strained
while Jonas' gains strength. Sharing this book in a family
or a classroom offers a valuable opportunity to respond
to and discuss Lowry's moving novel.
Miramax; October 2003
From the author of the best selling Artemis Fowl series
comes a heartwarming tale of a young girl who is given a
gift--the chance to right her wrongs, and discover the true
meaning of life. Meg Finn is in unearthly trouble. Cast
out of her own home by her stepfather after her mom's death,
Meg is a wanderer, a troublemaker. But after her latest
stunt, finding a place to sleep is the lead of her worries.
Belch, Meg's partner in crime, has gotten her involved in
an attempt to rob an old man's apartment, and things have
gone horribly wrong! With laughs and chills, The Wish List
is an exciting tale of life, death, and unexpected hereafter.