I remember my best friend in 6th grade reading A Wrinkle in Time and absolutely LOVING it. She would carry it around and try to convince me to read it. When I saw the audiobook available on Libby I decided to finally give it a try. With grand depictions of other dimensions and creatures throughout, this would have been a good first introduction to science fiction. I am happy that I was able to listen to this book in audio format because it had a afterward read by Madelleine L’Engle’s granddaughter. It was nice to hear her speak about the author’s thoughts on the book and how she would brag in her classes that her grandmother wrote the book they were reading. Honestly, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more if I read it as a kid, but it was still fun to listen to as an adult. It’s a fairly quick read (or listen) and I recommend it to anyone like me who felt that they missed out on something big as a kid.
Availability: COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI Review Submitted by: Erin Crawford Rating: Recommended Challenge: Book to Film and Audiobook
Much like with Avatar the Last Airbender, I went through most of my young life assuming that the Golden Compass (and its sequels) were overrated and that I shouldn’t bother with them. Again, like Avatar, this book turned out to be awesome! I was immediately pulled into the world Pullman creates, with a wide range of characters, plot twists, and worlds within worlds. I only hesitate to rate it “Highly Recommended” because of the heavy bent towards Christian theology in the plot. While I am fascinated by the infinite ways authors utilize the biblical story, I know that’s not for everyone.
I listened to this one on audiobook, read by the author and a bunch of other people. I’m not generally a fan of multiple readers, but this was pretty solid and flowed well.
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM Submitted by: Izzy Lott Rating: Recommended Challenge: Book to Film; audiobook; color in the title
Late to the world of Harry Potter, I am quickly discovering what all the hype is about. I was recommended to listen to the audiobooks and highly suggest that everyone do the same, regardless of whether or not you have already read the series. I have not listened to too many audiobooks, but so far Jim Dale’s narration is by far the best. He brings life to every part of the book and truly channels the “magical” feel of Hogwarts. This is a wonderful book to listen to while walking, relaxing in the sun, or doing a puzzle. If you have yet to read Harry Potter, it is never too late to jump on the bandwagon!
Availability: COSMOS and SMCM, USMAI Review Submitted by: Sarah Gleason Rating: Must Read Challenge: Book to film, audiobook
The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland, is a unique perspective on the Arthurian cycle. The dichotomy of two disparate Arthurs in diverse time periods is a bit off-putting at first, but I was hooked by the concept of King Arthur’s voice transmitting through a ‘seeing stone’ to a younger Arthur from a later age. I would rate this recommended with reservations.
Availability: COSMOS Review Submitted by: M Denise Brace nee Lerch (’82) Rating: Recommended with Reservations
The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail by Michael P Spradlin in COSMOS is a recommended read. Young orphan Tristan, raised by monks and later squire to Sir Thomas, becomes entrusted with the Holy Grail and must return it to the monks with the aid of friends he meets along the way, while avoiding enemies out to seize the Grail for their own selfish means.
I’m pretty sure Anne of Green Gables and its sequels are written for children, but I never got around to reading them as a kid, so I figured now would be a good time. I can understand why it’s a beloved, classic book- the story and characters are sweet and relatable, but there’s enough action and intrigue to make the book interesting and fun. Even though the story takes place in the early 1900s, I think there’s a lot for kids to learn, and for adults to enjoy, from this book. I also read the immediate sequel, Anne of Avonlea, which continues right from the end of the first book and is about Anne’s life as an older teenager dealing with more adult things. I plan on reading more of the series, as it’s an easy and enjoyable read.
Availability: COSMOS, SMCM, USMAI Review Submitted by: Hannah Yeager Rating: Highly Recommended Challenge: Book to film, book with a color in the title
The second book in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materialsseries has a well paced plot, but overall it is a less rewarding story than the first. The story starts where the last book left off, with Lyra entering an unknown world, but the vibrant mystery from the previous book has lost a bit of it’s intrigue. The book is full of mysterious elements that drive the plot steadily forward. But this time around, there are fewer characters who readers are asked to invest in, and more characters who are necessary for the plot but don’t stay around very long. There is, on the other hand, one significant character addition that helps balance this out.
Overall, The Subtle Knife is a classic that’s worth reading.
I don’t think I need to say much about this book. Harry Potter was everywhere in my childhood, but because I was introduced to the movies first it was hard for me to read something that wasn’t new. I tried to read the first book and was bored. Now as an adult, I decided I’m going to finally read them! I can appreciate the details that weren’t included in the films, and I know as the books go on those differences will be even more meaningful. It may take me a while to get through them all, but I’m really enjoying getting back into this world.
Availability: COSMOS and SMCM, USMAI Review Submitted by: Erin Crawford Rating: Highly Recommended Challenge: Book to film
Merlin’s Dragon “Ultimate Magic” by TA Barron takes place in the magical world of Avalon where Merlin and his gigantic dragon, Basil, must plunge into battle after battle together to defend the land from an unspeakable evil entity. All the magical creatures of the land band together and risk life and limb to defend their beloved world.
This classic book (His Dark Materials) was a pleasant read. It brought me back, and I was able to remember what reading was like for me as a kid.
It’s a pretty straightforward book, and the plot moves forward at a steady pace, driven by elements that make the book an intriguing read–witches, armored polar bears, plots to kidnap children, and daemons. It’s not for everyone; while it is a classic and a solid choice for many readers, keep in mind that the narrator is very young and this is the target audience. In the first scene, she foils a plot to poison her uncle’s wine! As long as you’re aware this is the plot you’re in for, it’s a rewarding book with a well-handled, steady plot to it. It was a good read!
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM Submitted by: Sage Burch Rating: Recommended with Reservations Challenge: Book to Film
The Last Unicorn is a strange fairy tale similar in tone to The Princess Bride. I was first introduced to this story through the bizarre animated film, and I’ve held a place in my heart for it since. It should come as no surprise that the novel is very similar to the film adaptation, as Beagle adapted the novel to the screenplay, a rarity in the world of book-to-film. Despite that, I would still recommend giving this novel a read.
The story is simple: there is a unicorn, she is the last of her kind, and she must go on a journey to find the rest of her kind. Where the film version fails in its psychedelic imagery and awkward musical numbers (not including the America tracks, which are amazing), this novel has the benefit of not being too terribly 1970s. The elements that dated the film version are absent from the novel, which makes it a timeless classic that does not rely nearly as much on cheese to have staying power. I could picture myself reading the novel to a child in all stages of life, discovering new things with each stage of development. A kid can enjoy the novel for the magic and adventure, a teen can enjoy the romance and humor, and an adult can really delve into the deeper themes of the complications of love and identity. No matter where you are in life, I think this novel will be a good read.
Availability: USMAI, SMCM, COSMOS Review Submitted by: Kimberly Boenig Rating: Must Read Challenge: Book to film
Roller Girl is a fictional graphic novel about a young girl who signs up for roller derby camp. It’s a semi-autobiographical story in that the author is a member of roller derby and drew upon her experiences with the sport, and some of her past relationships. The story does have a younger intended audience so if you prefer more adult stories this one you might want to skip, but the story isn’t juvenile and has themes and a plot that are universally appealing. The protagonist is dealing with drifting apart from a best friend, joining a new sport, dealing with bullies and self-doubt, working through relationships with her mother, and does it all with humor and fun. It’s a really fun read no matter your age, high recommended.