Classic Series Starters: The Chronicles of Narnia

The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis recently came back into the spotlight after the release of the movies a few years ago. Many adults have grown up reading the series, and younger adults might have even grown up watching the movies, but this is the series that made me fall in love with reading when I was a kid. I don’t know how many times I’ve reread this series; the spines of my old boxed set of books are all cracked and some pages are dog-eared. The Chronicles of Narnia might not be the first books kids pull off the shelves (I feel so old), but the series is a classic that somehow manages to be relevant almost seventy years after they were first published.

I recommend reading in publication order rather than chronological order, so start with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Even if you haven’t read the book, you most likely know the story anyway. Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie are sent away to the country from London to live in safety during the Blitz and World War II. The children arrive at the Professor’s house and begin exploring the expansive grounds and rooms, filled with antiques and treasures. During one of these explorations, the youngest, Lucy Pevensie, finds a wardrobe. Instead of finding the back of the wardrobe, however, she stumbles into Narnia, a magical land filled with ice and snow, where the White Witch has ruled for a hundred years in cruelty. Now it’s up to Lucy to convince the rest of her siblings that Narnia is real and that they must save it.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was first published in 1950 but were not immediately popular due to the fact that other children’s novels were written in a way to be more realistic so as not to frighten children or give them a false sense of reality. However, it has been widely accepted that C.S. Lewis was one of the pioneers in the genre of fantasy. The series also has strong parallels with stories and images in Christianity.

The original reading order of the series is:

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Prince Caspian

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Silver Chair

The Horse and His Boy

The Magician’s Nephew

The Last Battle

The chronological order of the series is:

The Magician’s Nephew

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Horse and His Boy

Prince Caspian

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Silver Chair

The Last Battle

When I was younger, I always read the series in chronological order because that’s how my boxed set came. I think that it would be interesting to reread the series how it was supposed to be read, which is the original publication order. The Aurora Public Library District has the series both available as physical copies or digital downloads (audio books or digital books) from the Indiana Digital Download Center. We also have copies of all three movies available for check out. Either way you read it, the series will take you right back to being a child again. I can’t wait to read it again!

Happy Reading!

Learn with Jack and Annie!

For over 20 years, elementary kids have loved the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. In each of these short chapter books, Jack and Annie travel to a different location or time period. These books are very popular with kids who have only recently started reading chapter books.

If you are just introducing your child to this series, you may want to begin at the beginning (Dinosaurs Before Dark), because the books do get progressively harder in length and vocabulary.

Did you know that there is a companion series of non-fiction books written especially to supplement the Magic Tree House books? Kids love learning more about the people, places and animals from the stories. Here are just of few of the Magic Tree House books shown side-by-side with their non-fiction companion books.

Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osborne  Sabertooths and the Ice Age by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Dolphins at Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborne   Dolphins and Sharks by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Day of the Dragon King by Mary Pope Osborne   China: Land of the Emperor's Great Wall by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce

Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne   Mummies and Pyramids by Will Osborne and Mary Pope Osborne

The non-fiction books present information in a reader-friendly way and often also list online resources for additional information. You may want to read the non-fiction books with your child since they are typically at a slightly higher reading level. Of course, kids usually mange to read the books they are really interested in!

We have most of the Magic Tree House fiction and non-fiction books, but if you can’t find one you need, just ask. Many of the books are also available to download through the Indiana Digital Download Center. The series is still continuing, so keep checking for new additions on our shelves!

There is also a great Magic Tree House web page, complete with book information and games. Parents and teachers should check out specials links for them in the upper right-hand corner of the web page.

After Harry Potter and Percy Jackson

What to do when your child has read Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but can’t seem to get hooked on anything else?

Here are some other juvenile fantasy series, both old and new, that might be just what you need. Because these great series have been around for a few years, we may not have all the books at both branches. Just ask at the circulation desk if you need help locating a book!

Children of the Red King is a series of eight children’s fantasy school and adventure novels written by British author Jenny Nimmo. It is sometimes called “The Charlie Bone series” after its main character. In the first novel, 10-year-old Charlie Bone discovers that he has a special power. After accidentally encountering a photograph of a missing baby, Charlie begins to hear the voices of people in photographs and he discovers that he is a descendant of the Red King, an ancient magician.

Midnighht for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

Septimus Heap is a series of fantasy novels by Angie Sage. The series follows the adventures of Septimus Heap who, as a seventh son of a seventh son, has extraordinary magical powers.

Magyk by Angie Sage

The Keys to the Kingdom is a fantasy–adventure book series written by Garth Nix, published in seven books between 2003 and 2010. The series chronicles the adventures of Arthur Penhaligon, an asthmatic 12-year-old boy who is chosen to become the Rightful Heir of the House, the center of the universe.

Mister Monday by Garth Nix

Written by P.B. Kerr, Children of the Lamp tells the story of twins John and Philippa, as they discover how to act in the world of djinn (genies). The story has a variety of themes including family, adventure, and loyalty.

The Akhenaten Adventure by P.B. Kerr

The Pegasus series by Kate O’Hearn would be a great fit for Percy Jackson fans. In the first book, Pegasus crashes onto a Manhattan roof during a terrible storm, and thirteen-year-old Emily’s life changes forever. Suddenly allied with a winged horse she’d always thought was mythical, Emily is thrust into the center of a fierce battle between the Roman gods and a terrifying race of multi-armed stone warriors called the Nirads.

Pegasus: The Flame of Olympus by Kate O'Hearn

Fablehaven is a secret nature preserve protecting mythical creatures from the outside world. As the series begins, Kendra and  Seth Sorenson are given a complex puzzle involving six keys and a locked journal. Once Kendra unlocks the mostly blank journal, she discovers the words “drink the milk”. She and Seth drink the magical milk  set outside in their yard every morning, opening their eyes to a whole new, mystical world full of the magical beings of Fablehaven.

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

The Tapestry, written and illustrated by Henry Neff is a fantasy series following the life of Max McDaniels. These books are notable for combining a range of genres, including fantasy, history, mythology, folklore, and science fiction. In The Hound of Rowan, Max stumbles on a mysterious Celtic tapestry which leads him to the secret Rowan Academy.

The Hound of Rowan by Henry Neff

Happy reading!

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter fans, dust off your wands and cloaks because the much-anticipated Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released into theaters on November 18! [Insert Harry Potter theme music here and fireworks.] I know we’ve all been waiting with bated breath for this movie ever since it was announced in September 2013, but here are some things you might not have known:

For instance, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be the first installment of five movies. [Insert internal screaming here.] That means that us Potterheads have at least five movies to look forward to that will connect us to the Wizarding World once again. Also, did you know that the Fantastic Beasts screenplay was written by J.K. Rowling herself? So it’s automatically going to be amazing.

Under the pseudonym Newt Scamander, J.K. Rowling published Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and its companion Quidditch Through the Ages on March 1, 2001. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a required textbook for all first-year Hogwarts students, as is demonstrated by the school supply list Harry receives in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The textbook is a history of magizoology (the study of magical creatures) and describes 85 magical species and where they are located in the world. Our copy includes handwritten notes from Harry, Ron, and Hermione, though, so you might want to check it out.

The movie provides the background story for what was happening in the life of Newt Scamander right before he published his book. Sadly, we won’t be returning to Hogwarts, as this movie is set in New York City in 1926, but we will hear about some familiar characters (Do the names Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore ring a bell?). With all of the excitement surrounding the release of the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child back in July of this year, it’s a wonder Potterheads can still summon enough anticipation for Fantastic Beasts (HA!).

So, in preparation for this event, I suggest rereading your favorite parts of the Harry Potter books and re-watching the movies. The Aurora Public Library District just got a brand new set of the Harry Potter movies just waiting to be broken in. If you don’t have time to stop into the library, be sure to check out the Indiana Digital Download Center for books, audiobooks, and more.

fantastic-beasts-wand

Accio, November 18!