Do you believe in magic? Probably not, but fortunately for us there are authors who write stories about magical people and places with such conviction that we are drawn into these worlds. For a little while we are removed from humdrum reality and believe that anything is possible. Try these books. Your kids will enjoy them and you might too!
What do blue moons, crab gumbo and mermaids have in common? They are all ingredients in Kathi Appelt’s book Keeper, set in rural Texas on the Gulf Coast. Ten year old Keeper doesn’t remember her mother very well but she is certain that her mother is a mermaid. Signe, her mother’s friend, raises her after her own mother disappears, without a trace, into the sea. Keeper has a part time job working for her neighbor, Dogie. She wishes more than anything that Dogie would marry Signe, but these hopes are dashed on the worst day of Keeper's life. She decides the only person who can put things right is her mermaid mother Meggie Marie, and runs away to find her. You might find yourself believing in magic as this story unfolds.
The beautifully written book, A Dog's Way Home, by Bobbie Pryor, may appear at first to simply be another story of a lost dog, Tam, trying to find his way home to his owner, Abby. The relationship between dog and girl is, of course, the dominant element of the story. However there are magical ... or perhaps mystical ... aspects that elevate this story to a higher level. Abby never stops believing that Tam is alive and her belief is encouraged by her grandmother who possesses “the sight” and “sees” that Tam is alive. Abby also has dreams about her dog that are so real she can’t dismiss them. Tam, for his part, has experiences that cannot be logically explained. Are they coincidences or magic? You have to decide as you journey with Tam and wait with Abby, impatiently, while she tries desperately to convince her parents that they need to resume looking for Tam.
Lovers of Harry Potter will enjoy meeting Bartimaeus, a very witty djinni who will do his master’s bidding but not without a lot of cheek and sass. The book is The Amulet of Samarkand, the place is London-- but not the London we know. London is ruled by magicians and Nathaniel, an apprentice magician, wants to make his mark in the magical world. His ambition is fueled by his desire to get even with the powerful magician Simon Lovelace, who humiliated him in front of his own master’s household. Taxing his magical skills to the limit, he summons the powerful djinni, Bartimaeus, to help him get revenge. He gets more than he bargained for. Bartimaeus challenges not only Nathaniel’s skill as a magician, but also his sense of morality.
Finally, The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens, is an interesting mixture of time travel and magic. Kate, Michael and Emma, abandoned by their parents at a very young age, have seen the inside of many orphanages. When they are packed off to new one, in a remote area of the Adirondack Mountains, they sense that there is something not right about their new home. Their suspicions are confirmed when they find a green book that acts as a portal to the past. When they are transported back in time, they begin to unravel not only what is happening in the town of Cambridge Falls, but also their destiny.
This is a small sampling of the fantasy books Niles Library has to offer. Come to the library and be bedazzled! The adventures are here waiting for you.
Carol Turner is a librarian in the Youth Services Department of the Niles Public Library.