Saturday, January 25, 2014

Take a Look, Its in a Book

A tale of wizards and dragons. A quest. Brave adventurers in a strange land. No, I'm not talking about the latest Terry Goodkind novel, rather my 9-year-old's bookshelf.

I grew up on books like the Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Phantom Tollbooth, eventually graduating to works by Bradbury, Orwell, Burroughs, Tolkien, Eddings, Hobb, and McCaffrey, among others. The literary world is full of all kinds of stories; tales of love and romance, action and adventure, suspense and mystery. Each genre has it's foundations, each has it's addictive elements; the ability to draw a reader in and immerse them into the characters and setting and feelings of the story. That, after all, is the essence of storytelling.

While some might lean toward stories based in our world, dealing with things one might actually witness in a city near you, my draw has always been to the fantastic. And my daughter is following in my footsteps.

It began innocently enough, with her mom and I reading to her about Disney's princesses, Pinkalicious, and Skippyjon Jones. Soon, we moved on to early readers that she could read to herself. She would pick up the Berenstain Bears and more princesses. Then we got onto chapter books and the doors were figuratively blown off their hinges!

There are so many great novels for young readers today. Nat flew through book after book about "Rainbow Fairies", a whole alphabet of "A to Z Mysteries", and ooh'ed and aah'ed over all the animals in the "Puppy Place" and "Kitty Corner" books. Until finally we are where we stand today. At nine, most of the books she picks up are considered "young adult" and most of them, I look at and say, "Hmm, that looks good!"

Some of Nat's current selection
It really started when she opened Chris Colfer's "The Wishing Spell", a novel in the tradition of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" with young siblings dropping into a magical world, eventually overcoming evil and returning home heroes, only to long for a way back (hello, sequel!)

Redwall is, of course, a classic at this point. Brian Jacques' fantastical world full of talking animals has grown through the years, from a modest story of a colony of peace-loving mice threatened by the evil rat, Cluny the Scourge to an epic tale full of depth and characters you can watch grow as the pages turn.

Books like "Whatever After", "Saige Paints the Sky" and "My (Sort of) Fairy Tale Ending" continue to fill the roll of princess books, though she for the most part has left the Disney girls behind.

Bad Kitty is just good fun for all. Nick Bruel lays out the evils of cats, while at the same time presenting a lovable main character, though whether that character is the bad kitty or the owner, I'll let you decide!

Other books, like Harry Poter and Fablehaven are true adventure tales full of magic and wonder. Nat gravitates to these like a moth to a flame. The beauty of many of these books, much like in their adult counterparts, is that they have been successful and have spawned sequels, ensuring that the adventure will continue. Of course, there are many more out there we haven't picked up, and the selection will only grow as she gets older.

The worst and best thing about her taste in books is that they all look so good. So, when she asks me to read one that she particularly likes, who am I to say no?

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