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February 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Fantasy Books for Youth
This has been a rich year for youth fantasy. We reviewed an equal number of titles for older and for middle readers during the past 12 months, but the best were YA books for readers in grades 6-12. Listed below are the cream of the crop, including a few stellar titles for younger readers, reviewed in Booklist from April 15, 2003, through April 1, 2004. Don’t miss the Media section’s “Top 10 Fantasy Audiobooks for Adult and Youth”; J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Christopher Paolini’s Eragon are among their Top 10, too.
Bell, Hilari. Flame. 2003. Simon & Schuster, $16.95 (0-689-85413-7).
Gr. 6-10. In a rousing fantasy steeped in Persian mythology and set in a peaceful land about to be invaded by a relentless enemy, three young people move inexorably toward leading roles in the war and its aftermath.
Constable, Kate. The Singer of All Songs. 2004. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $16.95 (0-439-55478-0).
Gr. 7-10. Novice priestess Calwyn becomes a key member of a band determined to stop a sorcerer who aims to rule Tremaris by becoming the Singer of All Songs. An impressive start to the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy.
DiCamillo, Kate. The Tale of Despereaux. Illus. by Timothy Basil Ering. 2003. Candlewick, $17.99 (0-7636-1722-9).
Gr. 3-6. In a tale both soul stirring and charming, Despereaux, a tiny mouse with huge ears, falls in love with a young princess, is banished to the dungeon for his unmouselike behavior when he tries to “honor her,” and eventually sets out to rescue her after she is kidnapped. The 2004 Newbery Medal winner.
Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee. The Conch Bearer. 2003. Roaring Brook, $16.95 (0-7613-1935-2).
Gr. 5-8. A boy who lives in modern-day India is charged with finding a magical conch shell. His fantasy-adventure, which takes him far from the home he knows, makes enticing reading.
Hoffman, Mary. Stravaganza: City of Stars. 2003. Bloomsbury, $17.95 (1-58234-839-1).
Gr. 6-10. In the second episode in an outstanding series, Georgia travels back and forth between her unhappy home in modern-day London and a richly detailed, well-imagined place called Remora, in a sixteenth-century, alternative Italy.
Paolini, Christopher. Eragon. 2003. Knopf, $18.95 (0-375-82668-8).
Gr. 7-12. After hatching from a mysterious blue stone, the dragon Saphira bonds with teenage Eragon, who becomes the first Dragon Rider in more than 100 years not under the control of the evil king. A solid start to a new trilogy; for more dragon literature see “In the Dragon’s Lair.”
Pattou, Edith. East. 2003. Harcourt, $18 (0-15-204563-5).
Gr. 6-10. Incorporating the essentials of the tale “East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon,” Pattou weaves a rich story tapestry around 15-year-old Rose, who accompanies a white bear to a distant castle, where she lives contentedly until her willfulness causes the Troll Queen to whisk the bear to “an unreachable place.”
Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Illus. by Mary GrandPré. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine, $29.99 (0-439-35806-X).
Gr. 4-up. This jam-packed fifth installment has all the familiar elements, but Rowling really shows her skill in her characterization of Harry; once downtrodden yet hopeful, he’s now sometimes sullen, rude, and contemptuous of adult hypocrisy.
Stroud, Jonathan. The Amulet of Samarkand. 2003. Hyperion/Miramax, $17.95 (0-7868-1859-X).
Gr. 6-10. Summoned by an apprentice magician to steal a precious amulet, Bartimaeus the djinni carries out his task in a convincingly detailed alternative London while remaining his wily, insulting, wildly entertaining self. A dynamic, inventive beginning to a new trilogy.
Yolen, Jane. Sword of the Rightful King. 2003. Harcourt, $17 (0-15-202527-8).
Gr. 6-9. A malicious witch, a throne in peril, and a plot twist that will take readers by surprise are the ingredients in this fresh, exceptionally skillful retelling of King Arthur’s story.
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