The Emerald Atlas may appease young Potter fans looking for next series

January 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm Leave a comment

The Emerald Atlas (Book 1, The Books of Beginning) by John Stephens; published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York; 2011.

On a snowy Christmas Eve, three children were taken from their warm beds and their loving parents, only to be delivered on an orphanage doorstep.  Four year old Kate was the eldest and her only memory is her mother urgently whispering, asking her to promise to take care of her younger siblings, two year old Michael and the infant Emma.  The children were given mementos as well.  Ten years into the future, after being shifted from one orphanage to another even worse home, the children board a train for a mysterious orphanage in New York; an orphanage that only has three children in residence: Kate, Michael and Emma.  Dr. Pym, the head of the children’s home, strikes a familiar chord on the periphery of Kate’s memory, but that isn’t the weirdest thing.  On an adventure to the basement, a world of time travel, child labor and Screechers opens.  The mystery of the Books of Beginning is introduced as Kate has been chosen by the Emerald Atlas.  What lies ahead for the trio depends on Kate’s mastery of the atlas and, in future installments, the Books that reveal themselves to Michael and Emma.

A patron was asking me about this new series that bookstores have been promoting as the heir to the Potter series.  Of course, she said, there are orphans and, of course, only they  can save the world from a future ruled by an evil master.  Where have I been and what have I been missing, since I hadn’t heard of any such series?  With a little research, we discovered The Emerald Atlas.  I gave her one copy and kept the other for myself.  Yes, I definitely see a nod to the Potter books, but at least in this initial installment, I found this story a mashup between The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter; and, the adventure kicks off quickly with some fairly intense fights.  I found Rowling’s series got darker and perhaps directed at more mature audiences with each book; Stephens’ book starts right off by letting readers know this is a battle for the future and it’s not going to be easy.

As a whole marketing product, the rough cut paper, the emerald green end pages, and the unique illustrations that introduce each chapter all work with the text to gently nudge readers into the realm of suspension of disbelief.  The cover is also beautifully illustrated to reach the right readers.

I will be recommending this series to fans of Harry Potter, science fiction or fantasy.  Even fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix’s The Shadow Children or Lost series will enjoy this.

More information about The Books of Beginning can be found at  The website includes a book trailer, activity guide, and information about the characters.  You can even read a chapter here to decide if this is the next fantasy series on your to-read list.  🙂


Entry filed under: Children's Chapter Book. Tags: , , , , , .

Joyce’s Guardians of Childhood introduced by The Man in the Moon Reluctant eaters chant Rah, Rah, Radishes!

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