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February 15, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Fantasy Books for Youth
A rising tide raises all boats, and this year, the tide is awash with novels. This upswell has affected every genre-but especially fantasy. What may be a windfall for fantasy enthusiasts fills compilers of Booklist’s annual Top 10 Fantasy Books for Youth with dread, but having made some difficult choices, we’re confident that the selections below will keep your avid fantasy consumers sated.
Anderson, M. T. The Game of Sunken Places. 2004. Scholastic, $16.95 (0-439-41660-4).
Gr. 5-8. The author of the YA novel Feed (2002) concocts a dark, suspenseful tale in which best friends on a visit to an eccentric uncle’s mansion are drawn into a real-life quest governed by an enchanted board game.
Barry, Dave and Pearson, Ridley. Peter and the Starcatchers. 2004. Hyperion, $17.99 (0-7868-5445-6).
Gr. 4-7. Readers familiar with the animated Disney movie, the Broadway musical, or J. M. Barrie’s 1908 novel about Peter Pan will find much to marvel at in this clever prequel, which explains how an orphan named Peter came to his state of eternal boyhood.
Curry, Jane Louise. The Black Canary. 2005. Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry, $16.95 (0-689-86478-7).
Gr. 5-8. The textured, mysterious setting is as compelling as the plot in this time-slip fantasy, in which biracial 13-year-old James magically journeys to Elizabethan England and discovers an unexpected passion for singing.
Gruber, Michael. The Witch’s Boy. 2005. HarperCollins, $16.99 (0-06-076164-4).
Gr. 6-9. Gruber, author of several thrillers for adults, weaves elements from fairy tales into a beguiling saga about Lump, an ugly “devil’s child” left in the care of a witch.
Langrish, Katherine. Troll Fell. 2004. HarperCollins, $15.95 (0-06-088304-5).
Gr. 5-7. Populated with menacing or mischievous creatures from Nordic folklore, this atmospheric adventure pits two capable young people against uncouth adults and terrifying trolls.
Larbalestier, Justine. Magic or Madness. 2005. Penguin/Razorbill, $16.99 (1-59514-022-0).
Gr. 8-11. Fantasy and contemporary realism arrestingly collide as Reason, a teen who takes pride in her rational worldview, accidentally steps through a portal from Sydney to New York City, where she is initiated into magic’s intoxicating but dangerous subculture.
Lawrence, Michael. A Crack in the Line. 2004. Greenwillow, $15.99 (0-06-072477-3).
Gr. 8-12. When teenage Alaric travels to an alternate universe, he meets a girl who could be his twin and gets a glimpse of his mother, who, in his own world, has died. Rich sensory detail and a wealth of clever connections mark this inventive, complex fantasy.
Le Guin, Ursula K. Gifts. 2004. Harcourt, $17 (0-15-205123-6).
Gr. 6-10. Renowned fantasist Le Guin’s first YA novel in 14 years, this trenchant coming-of-age allegory, set in a community where long-standing rivalries are driven by clans’ inherited, extrasensory “gifts,” combines earthy magic with universal themes.
Oppel, Kenneth. Airborn. 2004. HarperCollins/Eos, $16.99 (0-06-053180-0).
Gr. 6-8. In this heady 2004 Printz Honor Book, Matt Cruse, cabin boy in a giant, luxury airship, plunges into rip-roaring confrontations with pirates-and a turbulent friendship-cum-romance with a headstrong heiress. See interview with Oppel on p.1465.
Wooding, Chris. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray. 2004. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.95 (0-439-54656-7).
Gr. 9-12. In an alternate-reality Victorian London, 17-year-old vigilante Thaniel partners with a troubled young woman to investigate the city’s infestation with demons. Along with gothic-inspired horror, Wooding delivers characters to care about and rich philosophical underpinnings.
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