Monday, May 23, 2011

Reading Fantasy-all about Emeralds

After a meeting at the school board and before returning to school, I ran into Kidsbooks,  hoping to supplement a lit circle set, but Maniac Magee was sold out.  I couldn't waste a trip there so ended up with two new fantasy novels.  With difficulty I managed to wrestle them home before any of the kids could grab them.  Note, I am waiting to read the latest in the Red Pyramid series, The Throne of Fire my copy disappeared into waiting hands as soon as it arrived from Scholastic. 
Leslie, at Kidsbooks, told me The Emerald Curse by John Stephen, was the hot new book.   The author was a writer for The O.C. and The Gilmore Girls as well as most recently, the executive producer for  Gossip Girl, so that would suggest some good connections.  The book begins with three children being hustled away from their parents to a secret location due to reasons of safety and then picks up the story ten years later with them living in a terrible orphanage on their way to what probably is even a worse location.  The book is a quest as the children time travel in order to change the fate of the town where their new "home" is located.  It's an engaging tale and I am sure it will be popular.  Personally, I prefer the Dormia series.  I think it's better written and more thought out.  I will be curious what my classroom critics will say.
Well being time pressured I was "forced" to read the sequel to The Billionaire's Curse this weekend.  The Billionaire's Curse became a popular book in my classroom after we went to the Vancouver International Writers' Festival and met the author, Richard Newsome.  Some kids bought the book there and chose that as the book they wanted me to buy as well.  I think I briefly mentioned that book in an earlier blog.   The kids love this book and I enjoyed it as well.  Gerald has an ordinary life in Brisbane, Australia, until his Great Aunt dies and is family is whisked to England by private jet and he is informed he is her only heir.  His parents disappear off to check out all the homes she owns in exotic locations, leaving him to deal with all sorts of dangers as well as unhappy relatives.  Fortunately, he makes some good friends.
In the second book, he is off to India to visit one friend,Alisha, whose father's diamond was stolen in the first book but of course rescued with Gerald's help, with his twin friends, Ruby  and  Sam.  They are also in pursuit of the emerald casket, a source of great power and mystery linked to his family.
Interesting the appeal of these books where kids are basically on their own with some help from some adults but often adults, are the villains or just not helpful.  I think kids love seeing what these fictional characters are capable of doing on their own.  

Again, I will be curious to see if the kids like this as much as the first.  Many of my students love fantasy while others prefer more realistic fiction.  I have to say though to watch the evolution of some of my students as readers is so gratifying.  I don't think high school is where we hook kids into reading so that it's really important to be able to have this happen in elementary school.  I loved it when we had our earthquake drill and a couple of my students were busily reading as they stood waiting outside for the all clear signal.

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