Mike Hodel's Hour 25

Young Adult Tales of Magic and Fantasy

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  • June 24, 2003

  • June 24, 2003 - Children's and Young Adult Tales of Fantasy and Magic for fans of Harry Potter

    The Harry Potter books are a take on a classic theme in children's and YA fantasy, in which a child learns they can do magic, and this opens them to an entire new world where they feel that they belong for the first time in their lives. Often, they use their magical powers to save their friends, save their school, or even save the world. In some forms of children's magical fantasy, a child finds a magical object or encounters a magical being, and this leads them to a series of adventures. Often, the adventures don't turn out as expected, and the child tries to keep the magical knowledge secret from the outside world, or perhaps, just from their parents.

    Books on these themes:

    Diane Duane's Wizard Series - For young adults and adults, extremely well written and highly recommended. Similar to the classic theme used in the Harry Potter books.

  • So You Want to Be a Wizard
  • Deep Wizardry
  • High Wizardry
  • A Wizard Abroad
  • The Wizard's Dilemma
  • A Wizard Alone

  • The secondary series of these books about Cat Wizards:

  • Book of Night With Moon
  • To Visit the Queen (On Her Majesty's Wizardly Service in the U.K.)

  • Jane Yolen - A writer of great children's books, this one is very similar to the classic theme used in the Harry Potter books, but written years earlier.

  • Wizard's Hall

  • E. Rose Sabin - Won the prestigious Andre Norton Gryphon award in 1992 for her manuscript of this book about a school for the magically gifted.

  • A School for Sorcery

  • Edward Eager - A writer of children's fantasy classics - recently re-released. Stories about children finding magical objects or magical beings.

  • Half Magic
  • Knight's Castle
  • The Time Garden
  • Magic By the Lake
  • Magic or Not?
  • Seven-Day Magic
  • The Well-Wishers

  • Mary Norton - Writer of children's classics, including The Borrowers series. This book has the magical object theme.

  • Bed-Knob and Broomstick

  • E. Nesbit - Considered by many the first modern writer of children's classics. All of her children's fantasies are worth reading. Many of these have the magical object or creature theme.

  • Five Children and It
  • The Phoenix and the Carpet
  • The Story of the Amulet
  • The Enchanted Castle

  • For readers wishing to read more extensively in the field of fantasy, outside the guidelines mentioned above:

    Poul Anderson & Gordon Dickson - A series more towards the SF line about a race of teddy bear like beings that enthusiastically imitates any foreign culture that they learn about. Yes, this idea was used in the Classic Star Trek series, but without a fraction of the charm exhibited by the Hokas. Wait until you see what happens when they acquire a copy of A.C. Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories!

  • Earthman's Burden
  • Hoka

  • L.M. Boston - The Green Knowe Chronicles:
  • The Children of Green Knowe
  • Treasure of Green Knowe
  • The River at Green Knowe

  • Bruce Coville - Writer of a number of series for young adults. These books from his Magic Shop series and Unicorn series are recommended. Please note that a number of his books are available in full cast audio versions.

    Magic Shop Series:

  • The Skull of Truth
  • The Monster's Ring
  • Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher
  • Jennifer Murdley's Toad

  • Unicorn Series:

  • Into the Land of Unicorns
  • Song of the Wanderer

  • Gordon Dickson

  • The Dragon and the George

  • Randall Garrett - His Lord Darcy series is set in an alternate world where magic works. Lord Darcy investigates mysteries using scientific and magic principles.

  • Lord Darcy Investigates
  • Murder and Magic
  • Too Many Magicians

  • Zenna Henderson - A great series of stories mostly about unique beings with unusual powers living in exile on Earth. Often written in settings with teachers and children in classrooms.

  • The Anything Box
  • Holding Wonder
  • Pilgrimage: The Book of the People
  • The People: No Different Flesh

  • James Howe - Great books about a vampire bunny, told from the POV of the other family pets. Just how dangerous can a little bunny be?

  • Bunnicula
  • Bunnicula Strikes Again

  • Brian Jacques - Author of the highly popular and well written Redwall Series. Redwall is an Abbey run by mice and the adventures of the folk who live there and their battles with evil creatures who want Redwall for themselves.

  • Redwall
  • Mossflower
  • Mattimeo
  • Mariel of Redwall
  • Salamandastron
  • Martin the Warrior
  • The Bellmaker
  • The Outcasts of Redwall
  • The Pearls of Lutra
  • Marlfox
  • The Legend of Luke
  • Lord Brocktree
  • Taggerung

  • Kathryn Lasky - Guardian of Ga'Hoole Series:

  • Book One: The Capture

  • Madeleine L'Engle

  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • A Wind in the Door
  • A Swiftly Tilting
  • Planet

    C.S. Lewis - The Chronicles of Narnia Series:

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
  • The Magician's Nephew
  • Prince Caspian
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • The Horse and His Boy
  • The Silver Chair
  • The Last Battle

  • Anne McCaffrey - The Dragonrider Series:

  • Dragonflight
  • Dragonquest
  • The White Dragon
  • Dragonsong
  • Dragonsinger
  • Dragondrums

  • Robin McKinley - This is her retelling of the tale of Beauty and the Beast

  • Rose Daughter

  • Garth Nix - The Keys to the Kingdom Series:

  • Book 1: Mister Monday

  • Mary Norton - The Borrowers Series:

  • The Borrowers
  • The Borrowers Afield
  • The Borrowers Afloat
  • The Borrowers Aloft
  • The Borrowers Avenged

  • Phillip Pullman - This author's series, His Dark Materials, is superbly written and also is available as an excellent full cast audiobook series by Listening Library.

  • The Golden Compass (Northern Lights in the U.K.)
  • The Subtle Knife
  • The Amber Spyglass

  • Patricia Wrede - Author of good books with strong female protagonists. The Enchanted Forest Series:

  • Talking to Dragons
  • Dealing With Dragons
  • Searching for Dragons
  • Calling on Dragons

  • Written with Caroline Stevermer:

  • Sorcery and Cecilia

  • Jane Yolen - Wonderful author of young adult literature. All of her books are recommended, especially her Tartan Magic Series and her Merlin Series.

    Closing Comments

    This entire list covers books written from the early 20th century and into the 21st century. Hopefully, all these books give you something to read after you've finished the latest Harry Potter. If you haven't heard them, check out the unabridged audiobooks of the entire Harry Potter series, exquisitely narrated by Jim Dale and the full cast audiobooks of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials series. Both series are published by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing.

    Please note that most of these selections have stood the test of time, but some of the series are still ongoing, notably Diane Duane's Wizard series and Brian Jacques' Redwall series. Garth Nix's and Kathryn Lasky's books are each 2003 releases and the first volumes in two promising new series. I am still actively reviewing new young adult titles for inclusion, so check the revision date at the head of this list to see if you have the latest version.

    For additional suggestions, I recommend checking out the following sources:

  • The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society's Recommended Reading List for Children and Young Adults
  • sff.net's Recommended Fantasy Author List

    If you have a favorite children's fantasy, classic or contemporary, that covers the themes I've mentioned, please share it with me. Drop me an email in care of Warren James at wwjames@earthlink.net. I'll never be too old to read great children's and young adult books. You shouldn't be either.

    Suzanne Gibson June 24, 2003

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