08. October 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Courtney, Fiction, Paranormal · Tags:

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens, 417 pages, read by Courtney, on 08/13/2013

Kate remembers the last time she saw her parents and remembers her mother telling her to protect her younger siblings. Michael and Emma, the younger two, have no recollection of their parents; the only life they know is fending for themselves in orphanage after orphanage. Kate is positive that her parents are coming back, but even she has to admit is seems less and less likely. When an adoption opportunity goes sour, the kids are sent to the most remote orphanage they’ve ever been to. When they arrive, they realize it’s the strangest one they’ve ever been to as well. In fact, they’re the only kids in the orphanage. Not only is the orphanage strange, the town is too. The inhabitants are grim and there aren’t any children.
One day, the children stumble upon a book in the basement of the old orphanage and shortly thereafter discover that the book has magical properties. The book is, in essence, a portal through time. Thus begins and epic and decidedly non-linear adventure to save the world of magic.
This was an especially charming, if slightly confusing middle-grade adventure story. The three children, Kate, Michael, and Emma, all have very distinct personalities. Kate is the headstrong leader. Michael is the bookish one (who is also obsessed with dwarves) and Emma is one of the most adorably sassy young ladies I’ve ever come across. My main criticism for this book is that there are a lot of moments when characters get separated and, upon regrouping, demand to have events recounted. Not only does it get repetitive, it feels like a crutch for the author. Still, high adventure and lots of fun. My middle-school kids loved it.

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