12.12.2010

Chapter Book Recommendations

I recently have had a few requests to post about some of my favorite chapter books (young adult and middle grade). My wife recently put up a new website for the two of us, which includes descriptions of ten of our favorite fantasy and sci-fi series: http://web.me.com/clantoons/Clantoons/Snippets.html. Some of these series we are still working on, or new books are coming out in the series. Here are 12 additional recommendations that come from my recently read bookshelf:

1. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (553 pages) - The Percy Jackson & The Olympians series feels as if it was just leading up to The Heroes of Olympus series. This is definitely not Riordan riding the coattails of past success. This is him taking an epic and hilarious series to an all new level. The Lost Hero was griping and I had a difficult time putting it down. It took me only two days to read and I eagerly await the next installment.

2. The Red Pyrimad by Rick Riordan (516 pages) - Action! Mythology! Great wit and humor! This series by Rick Riordan contains all the same fantastic elements as the Percy Jackson series, but is definitely its own distinct creation. 

3. Ottoline by Chris Riddell - Wacky and delightful! These "middle grade" books are for anyone who likes to be a bit silly. My mom recently got me the final installment from England and it was as splendid as the two before. While her parents search the world for all sorts of bizarre and interesting things, Ottoline and her friend, Mr. Munroe, form clever plans and have quite the adventures. As is always the case with Riddell, the illustrations are splendid. He remains one of my favorite illustrators. Reluctant readers will especially appreciate that these chapter books have as many pictures as words, but avid readers should enjoy too.

4. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell - Hilarious! The movie and the books are two separate but akin creatures. Both simply brilliant! The books follow Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III who is not exactly the brave and brawny viking warrior. You'll want to read these out loud as the viking voices are just too much fun not to.

5. The Spiderwick Chronicles and Beyond the Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black - Each of the books in this series is rather short so I recommend getting the special edition that is comprised of all the books. As with many of my favorite books, this series places fantastical events and creatures in a modern setting. The books are suspenseful and wonderfully illustrated. The books might just inspire you to start your very own field guide to the fantastical world around you.

5. The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi (466 pages) - Tony DiTerlizzi has written and illustrated a number of my favorite picture books. As of late, he has ventured into writing and illustrating chapter book series such as The Spiderwick Chronicles. He still is a better illustrator than writer, but he is a fantastic illustrator, so it would be rather hard for it to be otherwise. The Search for Wondla is his latest creation and I was captivated by it. The book is somewhat like what you would expect if Star Wars met Alice in Wonderland (Underland). The book is about a girl named Eva Nine who lives in an underground home and has never ventured out of it. That is, until, she and her robot mother are attacked by a strange huntsman. Forced out of their home they enter the surface world, which is nothing like what they expected. DiTerlizzi has created a puzzling mystery full of suspense. Definitely worth reading!

6. The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud - I read this series a couple years ago but with a fourth book coming out soon I am thinking of rereading them. Jonathan Stroud is a genius storyteller and the world he creates is so well constructed that I easily find myself immersed. A must read!

7. Eragon and the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini - Paolini may draw upon The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars too much in his first book, but for me it does not make the series any less enjoyable. Eldest, the second book in the series, I found to be simply inspired. I loved the eleven world he created. Brisingr, the third book in the series, also was simply captivating. Yet, I noticed that he is starting to become too detailed with his work. I doubt that any future series by him will be for younger readers. He seems to be crossing into fantasy for an older audience. Yet, I love this series. Along with Harry Potter, this series helped me to become a reader.

8. The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer - Very different lines than the Artemis Fowl series, but truly clever and exciting. Colfer is a great writer and I recommend all of his books but this one stands out to me as one I found particularly fascinating.

9. Far Flung Adventures by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell - Brilliant!

10. Odd and the Frost Giants, Coraline, and the Graveyard Book (Newberry winner) all by Neil Gaiman

11. The Eddie Dickens Trilogy by Philip Ardagh and illustrated by David Roberts - Nonsensical . . .  if you like the weird and witty then you'll love these books.

12. Mouse Noses on Toast and Sensible Hare by Daren King and illustrated by David Roberts

I'll add some more soon. I might even make a specific page soon with descriptions and all . . . once I can find the time.