Welcome to this month's Children's Book Review! This month's installment comes from one of our wonderful Free Library of Philadelphia Children's Librarians, Chris Brown from the Wadsworth Branch Library. Your Children's Librarians have their finger on the pulse of not only what is new and hot for young readers, but also what books to turn to when you've read them all already. Chris, take it away!
“What do I read after Riordan?” Is a frequently asked question at the Wadsworth Library. The situation is always the same: My young friend has read Harry Potter and is desperately waiting for the next Percy Jackson book to come out. But what’s a good read in the meantime?
I think there are two (criminally) underrated series that are both winners:
The Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix.
This series is broken up into seven books (Mister Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday, and Lord Sunday.) The series follows a young boy named Arthur who is forced to travel to a different realm called “the House.” The creator of this realm, the Architect, went missing long ago. No one knows what happened to her. Before she disappeared, she left her seven lieutenants (Monday-Sunday) in charge of the seven floors of the house. Each was given a magical key to maintain order in her absence. She also left a will with instructions for how the House was to be run – but her lieutenants broke the will and ignored her orders. Now things are going very, very wrong. If the House is destroyed, our universe will also be destroyed! It’s up to Arthur to challenge each lieutenant, get the key, and gain control of the House before it’s too late!
The Green Knowe Books by L. M. Boston.
This series is a slower-paced read compared with Nix’s, but the language and imagery is so beautiful that readers will appreciate it and want to visit Green Knowe again and again. The story takes place in England during the 1950s and 1960s. A young boy named Tolly is abandoned by his father and step mother over his Christmas holidays at the family’s ancestral home with Tolly’s great-grandmother, Mrs. Oldknow. Tolly and Mrs. Oldknow aren’t alone though. The ghosts of their ancestors still inhabit the house and a few ghostly children become Tolly’s confidents and playmates. The series is six books long (The Children of Green Knowe, The Chimneys of Green Knowe, The River at Green Knowe, A Stranger at Green Knowe, An Enemy at Green Knowe, The Stones of Green Knowe) and the house featured in each of the stories is real! (If you’re planning a trip to England, you could visit.) Along the way, readers will get to know Tolly better, meet displaced children (an after-effect of World War II), and have fantastically magical adventures!
Christopher A. Brown
Wadsworth Branch Library