PITTSBURGH–There’s no excuse to sit around waiting for the next Harry Potter book — or sulking when you’re finished — when there are so many other choices for young adult readers. It’s not hard to find books with enough inspirational heroes, magic and majesty to satisfy the most ardent Potter fans.
Like the continuing adventures of Harry Potter — Book 6, “The Half-Blood Prince,” hits bookstores Saturday — many of these books would give Grimms’ fairy tales a run for their gory details, with unflinchingly evil villains and shocking deaths not at all uncommon. Good people don’t always triumph, but they usually learn an important lesson or two — and in any case, take the reader along for a wild ride.
Here are some suggestions that might strike a fantasy reader’s fancy.
* Consider the source: The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, recommends “Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo” among 22 suggestions for Harry Potter fans. Book 1 of Obert Skye’s new series tells of Leven, a 14- year-old boy who is recruited to save Foo, the land from where dreams come.
The librarians’ list includes “books that may have similar story elements to Harry Potter but more importantly replicate the accessibility, tone and flavor.” (For full list, visit www.ala.org and search “Harry Potter.”)
* Closer to home: The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has an A-to- Z list of its own (www.carnegielibrary.org/kids/booknook/t opicbooklists/harrypotter.html) that includes classics such as “A Wrinkle in Time” and “The Wizard of Oz,” along with lesser known gems, such as Jean Thesmen’s “The Other Ones.”
* Coming soon: “Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2),” the sequel to Christopher Paolini’s popular “Eragon,” makes its debut Aug. 23. The book continues with the adventures of Eragon, still perfecting his skills as a dragon rider, and Saphira, the dragon he trains.
* Fowl play: “The Opal Deception (Artemis Fowl, Book 4)” reached bookshelves in April, much to the delight of fans of Eoin Colfer’s series about a teenage criminal mastermind.
* So many series, so little time: “The Chronicles of Prydain” by Lloyd Alexander, “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman and “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien all offer many hours of fantastic worlds and other-worldly creatures, great and small.
* Know your authors: Anne McCaffrey, perhaps best known for “Dragonsinger” and the Harper Hall Trilogy, is a prolific author with dozens of titles. T.H. White, on the other hand, whose “Once and Future King” set the contemporary standard for rethinking the King Arthur legend, wrote just a handful of books in his lifetime.
Copyright Post Gazette Publishing Company Jul 14, 2005