I read the first two pages of The Emerald Atlas to my 9th grade reading students and they were clamoring over each other to get this book. They were extremely disappointed when I told them they would have to wait until I finished it.
They had to wait because I started reading it and I was really enjoying it. The Emerald Atlas is the first in the new Book of Beginning trilogy, and based on the first, I can’t wait until the second and third come out.
The prologue sets a fast pace and a mysterious plot. In the middle of the night a strange man comes to take young Kate, younger Michael, and baby Emma away from their parents. In their last moments together, Kate’s mother tells Kate to protect her siblings and that one day the family will be together again. Moments pass and Kate’s parents are running into the night, chased by unknown men. She, her brother, and sister are shoved into a back seat of a car which, moments later, careens away from the house and eventually over a ridge and over a river. But something that Kate doesn’t understand happens before they hit water and later the children wake up in an orphanage.
They spend years being bounced around from one orphanage to another. They always thwart adoption attempts because the children believe their oldest sister: one day the family will be reunited. Eventually, they are so bad that they are sent to the worst orphanage that can be found.
But this orphanage doesn’t seem right. For starters, they are the only three kids. Also, there were no kids at all in the small village. Furthermore, the guy in charge of the orphanage is never around. So the children set themselves to exploring and they find an old book. By complete chance they discover this book, with its blank pages, is a magic book. If you place a photograph of a certain place from a certain time in the book you will be transported to that exact moment. And that’s what happens to Kate, Michael, and Emma. That’s also when the adventure really begins.
After traveling into the past, the children are pitted against an evil countess, her screaming minions, and an even darker, unknown force. They band together with giants and dwarves (Michael’s favorites!) to fight for freedom. This book is a little bit Narnia, a little Lord of the Rings, and a sprinkling of A Series of Unfortunate Events, wrapped up in a new, unique, and delightful new story.
Suitable for independent readers around the middle school level, I’m also certain that my high school readers will enjoy this tale. As will their parents because at its core, this story is about family- about three siblings that are very different, annoy each other terribly at times, but desperately need each other. And for those parents that don’t mind a little bit of magic to tell an adventure, or British sounding dwarves infrequently saying things like, “What the bloody ‘el?” they will find that this book will entertain their children.
With humor and tenderness, author John Stevens, expertly balances suspense as the children try to save the world, themselves, each other, and discover the secrets about their missing parents. I give this book an enthusiastic recommendation for lovers of children’s books and fantasy stories.
For beautifully drawn book trailers take a look here.
This book will be available April 5th. It is 432 pages.