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BOOK REVIEWS, Fantasy, MAUD HART LOVELACE NOMINEE, Middle Grade Readers, Mystery/Adventure, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Teacher & Parent Recommendations

THE EMERALD ATLAS by John Stephens…Lovelace Nominee Division II 2013-14

The Emerald Atlas

The Emerald Atlas is a thrilling adventure into the realms of magic and mystery.  As the story begins three children–Kate, Michael and Emma–are scooped from their beds by their parents and turned over to an unnamed man in an old tweed suit.  The old man indicates that a mysterious “they” have found them and are coming for the children.  Kate & Michael & Emma’s parents pack their small children into the man’s vehicle and the children are then spirited away into the darkness.

We rejoin the children ten years later.  They are residents in the latest of a long string of orphanages.  Kate, as the oldest, is the only one who remembers their mother and her whispered promise that she will see her children again and they will be together as a family once more.

Due to an incident between the children and a prospective adoptive parent (who has a bizarre obsession with swans), the three siblings are sent to yet another orphanage. The new orphanage is in Cambridge Falls and when the children arrive they realize they are the only residents in the entire orphanage.  This is the first of many unsettling discoveries.  In their explorations the children discover a strange green book which has the power to send them back in time.

When Michael is inadvertently left behind, trapped in the past, the prisoner of the evil Countess, Kate and Emma must find a way to rescue him.  Their originally straightforward rescue mission becomes an amazing journey into the events of the past.  They encounter unspeakable evil–witches and monsters who desire the book the children now possess, courageous friends, a wise wizard dedicated to the preservation of good and the truth about the loss of their parents.

The Emerald Atlas is a thrill ride that barely lets you catch your breath before plunging on to the next fight-or-flight situation.  For readers who love series like Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, Septimus Heap and The Alchemyst The Emerald Atlas is a perfect independent or read-aloud selection.

I am already almost finished with the second book: The Fire Chronicle and it fulfills the same promise of adventure and suspense–with even a dash MORE humor!  I can’t wait for the third and final book in the trilogy!


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