Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week there is a new topic and this week’s topic is:
Top 10 Books On My Syllabus if I Taught (my choice) 101
I decided to go with Reading Beyond Harry Potter and Hobbits 101
Hello class, and welcome to Reading Beyond Harry Potter and Hobbits 101! For many of you, the world of children’s fantastical literature begins and ends with Hogwarts and Middle Earth. Some of you may have also read classics like The Chronicles of Narnia or The Golden Compass, and while all of these series are shining examples of the genre, there are so many more middle-grade fantasy books out there.
Below you will find the syllabus for this class. Read at your leisure, as this class has no assignments or expectations of any kind.
- Magyk by Angie Sage – This series reminds me of Harry Potter in that there’s this one kid who happens to be “the chosen one”. He’s the seventh son of a seventh son, which should indicate that he’s going to be a super awesome wizard. The series gets more complicated as the books progress, and there is a lot of world building that happens. There is simple, straightforward magic, but also some very interesting discussions of time and space.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle – I reviewed this book not long ago because I wanted to reread something I had enjoyed as a kid but didn’t really understand very well. You could say that this series is more sci-fi than fantasy, since there are other worlds, aliens, time and space travel, but I think it also has a very fantastical way of spinning things. I like that the main character isn’t the smartest, strongest, greatest at everything, but instead is the girl who gets frustrated with how she can’t seem to understand what everyone else grasps so easily.
- Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones – I really like Diana Wynne Jones’ magical worlds, and I find it a bit surprising that Studio Ghibli hasn’t jumped on making these books into a bunch of movies. This book introduces the Chrestomanci, one of the most powerful enchanters in the world (and many others), and the one to solve major magical issues throughout the Related Worlds. Although I can’t be completely certain, I have a sneaky suspicion that one of the Wizard Howl’s personas (from Howl’s Moving Castle) may actually be a Chrestomanci.
- The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander – Just this morning I read a wonderful blog post by someone who claims that Lloyd Alexander’s series is actually “the greatest fantasy series ever written”. I am not sure if I agree with him completely, but I think that this series has a lot to offer. This is another one of those books where the main character isn’t actually the hero. He’s a simple kid who is tired of doing nothing but working on the farm, so he sets out to have an adventure. Of course, he basically immediately regrets his decision, but that launches us off into an amazing tale of self discovery and friendship.
- Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R.L. LaFevers – Theodosia is a smart girl who has some rather oblivious parents. They keep bringing back ancient artifacts for their museum, and she continually has to figure out how to break the curses that they have inadvertently unleashed. This series is great fun for anyone who enjoys books about Egyptian mythology. I also really love that the main character is a plucky little girl, since we often see male protagonists in these roles.
- The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud – These books are dark and scary, while still being totally age appropriate. I was absolutely spellbound by the tale of boy-magician, Nathaniel, who vows revenge on the master who betrayed him. The boy manages to conjure up a 5,000-year-old djinni named Bartimaeus, who doesn’t do so much helping as hindering. The descriptions in the book are amazing, and the story is something new and engaging that keeps you wanting more.
- The Hunter’s Moon by O.R. Melling – If you prefer your fantasy with a few more fairies in it, this is the series for you. Gwen and her cousin have been chasing tales of the land of faerie since they were young, but when one of the girls is kidnapped to be the Faerie Kings bride, they have to figure out how to escape before it is too late. You could almost argue that this book belongs in the YA age group, but I don’t recall any content in it that I would say is objectionable.
- The False Prince by Jennifer A. Neilsen – I call this “Game of Thrones for kids” series because there is a lot of political intrigue going on. Four orphans have been selected by a nobleman, Connor, to compete against each other to pose as the kingdom’s missing prince, in hopes of unifying the war-torn land. While each of them have a chance at getting the role, Sage, one of the boys, suspects that there is something more sinister behind the plan and doesn’t want to participate, but to lose would mean death.
- We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London – This is another series I have mentioned before, but I don’t think I mentioned how full of magic it is! The Navel twins not only regularly run into witch doctors and other magic wielding oddities, but they have access to a remote control that works on any TV… oh, and also has access to the Library of Alexandria. If that doesn’t get you book nerds excited, I don’t know what will!
- Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger – Since everything else I have mentioned is a series I thought my final pick should be a single. This book is just hilarious fun with a magical twist. Harry likes to play practical jokes, but his latest one has landed him in hot water when he convinces Sir Fartsalot that The Booger is causing trouble in the kingdom. Harry is made a squire, and now has to go along with this crazy hunt to keep from getting into more trouble.