If you’ve read the blog long enough, you probably know that when push comes to shove, I’m going to advocate for nonfiction and fantasy if there are viable contenders from those genres. We’ve already covered the various possibilities in the former genre, and while Nina recently brought up EGG & SPOON as the most likely fantasy candidate, there are yet some other books worthy considering. I’m going to admit up front that I haven’t read any of these yet, but would like to read all of them. I have some projects that haven’t allowed me to read my normal quota of chunky fantasy tomes, but I’ll have some extra reading time next week when I’ve got some significant airplane time. I’ll look to your comments to help me decide which ones to take along.
GABRIEL FINLEY AND THE RAVEN’S RIDDLE by George Hagen has three starred reviews. Booklist: Yet this story, told from several points of view, is fresh: full of ravens, riddles, and the ongoing urge to make things right in a world where much has gone wrong. Though the narrative is a bit choppy in places, the characters carry the day, with their humor and strength. Humor is, in fact, one of the book’s selling points, often in the form of the characters’ witty repartee. Publishers Weekly: Though familiar tropes abound, Hagen’s sensibility is unique-the desk-wrangling scene is not to be missed. School Library Journal: Hagen has crafted a tale that contains riddles, magic, courage, loyalty, and compassion in a way that is sure to engage readers. Gabriel inhabits a dark world where friendship is the guiding light and differences are respected and valued. This is a great read for fantasy lovers who have worn out their copies of “Harry Potter.”
THE GLASS SENTENCE by S.E. Grove has two starred reviews. Kirkus: Grove’s intelligent and challenging debut is brilliant in concept, breathtaking in scale and stellar in its worldbuilding; this is a world never before seen in fiction. Publishers Weekly: In the alternate Earth of Grove’s thrilling, time-bending debut, first in the Mapmakers series, the world was sliced up, seemingly at random, by the Great Disruption of 1799 and reassembled with numerous present, prehistoric, and future “Ages” all connected.
THE MAP TO EVERYWHERE by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis has four starred reviews. Booklist: The unique details, expert plotting, charming characters, and comic interludes combine in a tantalizing read that’s made even more appealing by the promise that the story will continue in future volumes. Kirkus: Multifaceted characters, high stakes, imaginative magic, and hints of hidden twists and complexities to come add up to a memorable start to a projected four-volume voyage. Publishers Weekly: Fast-paced and imaginative, this adventure combines action with whimsy, injecting emotion and pathos into an otherwise lighthearted romp. School Library Journal: This is an ambitious undertaking, and strong readers who enjoy adventure fiction and fantasy will inhale the first book in what has the potential to be an extraordinary series.
THE WITCH’S BOY by Kelly Barnhill has three starred reviews. Kirkus: Barnhill skillfully interweaves the stories of Ned, Aine, Sister Witch and the stones, along with an intriguing group of secondary characters. The third-person narration switches perspective smoothly, and it’s all related in a precise, flowing prose that easily places readers into the fantastic setting and catches them up in the story. The classic fantasy elements are all there, richly reimagined, with a vivid setting, a page-turning adventure of a plot, and compelling, timeless themes. Publishers Weekly: Barnhill elegantly joins the story’s diverse threads in a complex tale whose poignancy never turns sentimental. School Library Journal: The boy’s growing confidence and ability to wield and protect his mother’s magic adds elements of a classic origin-quest tale to a story that’s already brimming with a well-drawn, colorful supporting cast, a strong sense of place, and an enchanted forest with a personality to rival some of the best depictions of magical woods.
So many great books! Which to read?
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About Jonathan Hunt
Jonathan Hunt is the Coordinator of Library Media Services at the San Diego County Office of Education. He served on the 2006 Newbery committee, and has also judged the Caldecott Medal, the Printz Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. You can reach him at email@example.com
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