23 January 2009

Immersion therapy (updated)

One of the wonderful things about working with kids books is having the opportunity to slip quietly into so many different worlds.

With a lovely long weekend of reading beckoning, here's our list of books to get lost in.

1: Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

Set thousands of years ago in the cold far north when the land is one dark forest. 12-year old Torak and his wolf cub companion must find a way to destroy the evil bear demon that killed his father. Someone who shall remain nameless (Lili Wilkinson) called this 'Clan of the Cave Bear for kids'. Rawther less sex than Clan, however, and much more cool magic.

2: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Set in a future world where everyone has cosmetic surgery when they turn sixteen, making them into a Pretty - and supermodel beautiful. 15 year old Tally Youngblood learns to be careful what you wish for, and finds rebellion more appealing than her Pretty-head could ever have imagined. And oh hello - hoverboards!

3: Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park
14 year old Abigail is transported back 100 years to Sydney 1873. There she discovers a whole new world - and how difficult life was for the families struggling on the poverty line in The Rocks area of Sydney. If you studied it at school and didn't like it, try try again.

4: Sabriel by Garth Nix

Garth Nix is a genius at creating completely believable, utterly compelling worlds. But I don't think you'd want to holiday in the Old Kingdom because the dead just won't stay dead. Awesome heroine, completely terrifying bad guys, and, best of all, Mogget - the small white cat with a shady past, dubious alliances and an uncertain future.

5. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

Your father is regularly consulted by the president, your mother is a stunningly beautiful Nobel Prize-winning scientist, and you live in a beautiful old farmhouse somewhere in New England (where your mother cooks meals on her Bunsen burner). Your life is probably pretty perfect, right? Not if you're Meg Murray, you're mousey and defensive, you get into fights protecting your weird little brother and your father has disappeared. But if you thought you had problems to begin with, Meg, just wait until you discover that THERE IS SUCH A THING AS A TESSERACT. (And thank you, Calvin O'Keefe, for proving once and for all that orange hair can be hot.)

6: The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable

In the world of Tremaris, magic is fading away. Calwyn must discover her powers of chantment if she is to survive outside the Ice Wall of Antaris. We should have put this one on the YA Love List. Calwyn/Darrow URST = HOTT.

7. Anything by Philip Pullman, Ursula Le Guin, Diana Wynne Jones.

Enough said.

[UPDATE: Interestingly, as far as we can see, you won't find any of these books or writers (not even Philip Pullman? No. Not even Ursula Le Guin? No.) on the Guardian's Science Fiction and Fantasy list.

They've included Harry Potter - but only rather grudgingly.
'Every now and then, a book comes along that is so influential you have to read it to be part of the modern world. Rowling's Harry Potter series may have its faults - it's a magpie's nest of bits and bobs borrowed from more innovative writers - but it occupies that space.']

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