Fantasy Favourites From Abarat To Oz!

Fantasy Favourites
From Abarat To Oz!
© Pierre Vinet/New Line Productions
By David Marc Fischer
© 2009 Scholastic Canada Ltd. V001
Associated Press
Fans of hobbits and Harry
Potter have had a magical
effect on the world of
fantasy fiction. We take
you inside this exploding
genre where the
impossible is possible!
J.R.R. Tolkien
J.K. Rowling
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eroes and heroines.
Dungeons and dragons.
Swords, sorcerers,
witches, and warlocks. It’s the
stuff of fantasy fiction, and it
has cast a powerful spell on
teen readers everywhere.
“Fantasy fiction has helped
sculpt the person I am today,”
says 17-year-old Nick Feitel, who
enjoys fantasy sagas from J.R.R.
Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to
Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic.
“I think I became a lot more
creative as a result of reading
these impossible stories.”
Fantasy books have
frequently dominated the
U.S. Young Adult Library
Services Association poll of
young readers’ favourites.
Books on the Top Ten list
have included Cornelia
Funke’s The Thief Lord, Garth
Nix’s Abhorsen, and Holly
Black’s Title:
A Modern Faerie Tale.
Why is fantasy so popular
among young readers?
Many credit a boy with a
lightning-bolt scar and a
knack for riding broomsticks.
When J.K. Rowling’s first
Harry Potter book hit U.S.
bookstores in 1998, no one
could have predicted its
impact. Harry Potter and the
Sorcerer’s Stone (“Philosopher’s
Stone” in Canada) topped
the best-seller lists, where it
was quickly followed by every
other book in the series.
The boy wizard you grew up
with continued to set sales
records. In its first 24 hours
on sale, Harry Potter and the
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Deathly Hallows, the seventh
and final book in the series,
sold a record 8.3 million
copies in the United States.
After Harry hit the scene,
demand for fantasy novels
increased. The number of
fantasy books purchased for
teens went up 22 percent in
the four-year period from
1999 to 2003, according to
the research firm Ipsos
“We’d all forgotten how
exciting that kind of fiction
could be,” said publisher
Philippa Dickinson in
Publisher’s Weekly, Spring 2004.
Today, publishers print
more fantasy books than ever.
They even have a special
name for the current crop of
thick-as-a-brick spellbinders
fighting for your attention.
It’s “big fat fantasy” fiction—
“BFF” for short.
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Abarat by Clive Barker, 2002.
From boring Chickentown, dive into the
forgotten world of the Abarat.
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel, 2004. Beware,
matey! Pirates ahead!
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll, 1865. The great, original
romp with a rabbit—and Alice!
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, 1977.
Cat’s life turns upside down when he arrives at
Chrestomanci castle.
Children of the Lamp
by P.B. Kerr, 2004. When teen twins get their
wisdom teeth, they discover they’re genies!
Circle of Magic: Daja’s Book
by Tamora Pierce, 1999. Four strong girls,
outcasts at home, earn respect for their powers
in an enchanted land.
The Lord of the Rings by
J.R.R. Tolkien, 1954-1955.
If you love the movies, you have to
read the books!
The Once and Future King by
T.H. White, 1958. A great version of the King
Arthur legend.
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke, 2002. An
adventure as twisted and magical as the streets
of the city it’s set in—Venice, Italy.
Tamora Pierce
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin,
1968. Three great books are followed by
a fourth with a different point of view.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
by L. Frank Baum, 1900. The book’s even
wilder than the movie!
Lewis Carroll
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Rebecca Bass, 17, is caught
up in the excitement.
“I was into the Chronicles of
Narnia [by C.S. Lewis] when
I was, like, 8,” recalls Rebecca.
“I just liked the idea of going
into a wardrobe and coming
out in a totally different
world.” A few years later, she
fell for Rowling’s books too.
Rebecca says she loves the
way fantasy blends the
impossible and the possible.
“It’s like your life—plus one,”
she says of Rowling’s gift
for combining realistic,
believable relationships—
such as Harry and Ron’s
friendship—with horrifying
spells, villains, and monsters.
This fantasy fan says she
prefers the books to movies.
“In a movie, everything is
spelled out for you,” she
explains. “Much of the appeal
of a book is that you can
imagine things and make
things look the way you
want them to look.”
P.B. Kerr
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“Every society has its stories
of magic and heroes, people
who go out from home and
come back changed, or to
change things. Fantasy
connects with that.”
— Author K.V. Johansen, in Canadian
Children’s Book News, Spring 2008
with thanks, Annick Press
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For authors, writing fantasy
can be just as magical as
reading it. Adult-thriller
writer P.B. Kerr tried his hand
at writing fantasy with his
kids’ novel Children of the
Lamp: The Akhenaten
Adventure. It was a chance,
Kerr says, to let his
imagination run wild:
“I just wrote. To some extent
it was like being a child again
For The Thief Lord author
Cornelia Funke, writing
fantasy is also an enchanting
experience. “I get the feeling,
when I am writing, that I am
more than just myself, that I
open up, inhale, and
experience what is not me,”
Funke says. “I express what
everybody feels, fears, and
wonders about.”
Author Tamora
Pierce shares
similar feelings.
Pierce’s recent
Tricksters Series
includes strong
Cornelia Funke
warriors. She discovered
Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring
when she was in the seventh
grade. She remembers being
overcome by “the grandeur
and the passion” of the hobbit
saga. “It just swept me up and
dumped me safely and
securely in another world for
as long as I was reading it.”
Yet some aspects
of The Lord of
the Rings books
left Pierce
unsatisfied. She
was, for example,
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unhappy that the female
warrior Eowyn gave up
fighting. Pierce says she
wanted to read about women
warriors, but they were hard to
find in books. So she started
creating resilient heroines of
her own. “It was a way to paint
the world as I wanted it to be,”
Pierce recalls.
Suzanne Collins, author of
Gregor the Overlander, also
feels the power of writing
fantasy. “Oh, I’m very happy
in the Underland,” she says of
the bizarre realm of giant rats,
bats, roaches, and spiders that
she introduced in her
Underland Chronicles series.
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Author info
Suzanne Collins wrote for children’s TV for years.
Gregor the Overlander and its sequel were her first novels.
©Cap Pry
Meet Suzanne Collins
Q. How did you get the idea for Gregor?
A. I ’d been walking around New York City thinking about Alice
in Wonderland. I got this image of a boy falling down, down,
down beneath the city and encountering a giant cockroach.
Q. Why do you write for young adults?
A. Y
oung people are the best audience possible.
They will consider new ideas.
Q. What do you like to read?
A. I am crazy about Greek mythology. The people and the
gods experience a wide range of human emotions in a
magical world.
—David Marc Fischer
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With so much new interest
in this age-old genre, could we
be living in a new Golden Age
of Fantasy? Pierce used to
reject the concept, but lately
she’s had second thoughts.
“It’s hard to compare some
of what’s being done to things
© Bettmann/CORBIS
Some people criticize
fantasy fiction as being
childish. Ursula K. Le Guin
“Fantasy, fairy tales, and
myths—all the stories that use
our imagination—are the
oldest kind of story we tell, and
probably the most important
kind,” says the acclaimed
author of the Earthsea Cycle.
“Only through them can we
understand certain matters at
These days, some teens are
doing the “telling” themselves.
Two well-known young
fantasy authors are French
teen Flavia Bujor and
American Christopher Paolini.
Paolini is author of the bestselling boy-meets-dragon tale
Eragon, which he began when
he was only 15. “I wanted to
write a story that I’d enjoy
reading myself, using elements
from fantasy books I’d read
growing up plus ideas of my
own,” Paolini says.
Ursula K. Le Guin
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like The Wizard of Oz,
The Once and Future King,
and Tolkien,” Pierce says.
“But I’ll tell you: there are
some amazing books being
published out there.” Pierce
can reel off dozens of new
works that could be
tomorrow’s classics.
And could today’s crop of
young fantasy readers grow up
to write even greater fantasy
Le Guin has no doubt about
the answer: “Absolutely!” n
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Many Worlds
Don’t pass by the fantasy shelves just
because you’re not crazy about magic
wands or dragons. Fantasy is a wide genre
with lots of variation. That’s because when
it comes to the imagination, there really
are no limits!
Classic fantasy, no wizards
In his Tales of Redwall, author Brian Jacques delivers
up all the heroes, quests and swordplay you’re looking
for in a classic fantasy. His world has a medieval
flavour—but its “people” are animals!
Animals rule
In Redwall, the animals have all the traits and customs
of human beings. Sherlock in Smart Dog by Vivian
Vande Velde can reason and speak, but otherwise,
he’s a pretty normal (and funny!) dog. Then there’s
Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing and Sharon Stewart’s
Ravenquest, where the authors base their imagined
animal cultures on research and facts about bats,
ravens, and wolves.
In the end, the point of fantasy is just a
rollicking good read. Here’s a few more
titles and authors to get you started on
your next adventure!
Multiple Worlds
The Nine Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne
Jones: At night, Christopher travels from
the Place Inbetween to many different
worlds. He thinks he’s dreaming. So how
come his pajamas are so grubby?
Interworld by Neil Gaiman and
Michael Reaves: Joey has a bad sense of
direction. He’s been lost before… but
never in another universe! A multipleworlds fantasy with a science fiction
travels in search of her fencing teacher, who has
been kidnapped by pirates.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Ridley Pearson
and Dave Barry: Read this if you want to know how
Peter Pan met Captain Hook!
—Laura Peetoom
Fantasy adventure
Alex and the Ironic Gentleman by
Adrienne Kress: Alex has to match wits
with a string of unusual characters as she
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