A perfectly delightful children’s book

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Emerald Atlas is 1) laugh out loud funny 2) Follows the basic pattern of all serial children’s fantasy and 3) 100% worth reading.

Unless you’ve looked at the back of the book you won’t get the formatting joke I just made, which is a shame because it’s hilarious.

Much like this book. The humour is cute and woven into the story in a gentle, light way that makes it hard not to warm up to the characters, the writing style and to stop from grinning like a slightly unhinged person if you’re reading in public. Despite the potential for embarrassment, I still firmly suggest reading this book.

It does follow the standard children’s fantasy script. Starting with the opening and the tragic abandoning of a group of child, or in this case, group of children, for their own protection. After a difficult childhood these children are suddenly reconnected with their own mysterious past, and not too long after that they start on a quest, get support from a mysterious mentor and a motley crew of adults and face off against the ultimate evil, which may have had something to do with their parent’s disappearance.

Sure, that’s the plot line of most children’s series, give or take a detail or two, but Emerald Atlas does it very well. Kate, the over protective big sister who still remembers her parents, is a powerful character who’s constant struggle to protect her siblings is enduring and moving. Michael, who’s thrown himself whole heartedly into his nerd passion for dwarfs, as a way to cope with his sad life is sympathetic, is interesting and complex. Emma, the youngest, the brawler is fun and strong in a way that’s completely delightful. The story, which involves some light time travel, some scary monsters and not surprisingly, dwarfs, marches along, with twists and turns that are pretty exciting.  Dr Pym is exactly what you look for in a mentor – someone wise, to drive the plot along, provide helpful insight  while with holding important details yet doesn’t actually do that much and isn’t around enough to stop the heroes from really growing into themselves through conflict but manages to appear just in time to safe them at the very end. I’m joking a little. I actually really like Dr Pym. I always like the mentors though. And they always die. The other adults who help the kids out along the way are interesting, lovable but don’t interfere too much either. Gabriel is probably my favourite, but anyone who looks out for Emma like he does is bound to be a favourite.

And the ending leaves you ready for the next book, which I’m looking forward to reading. Some time. Maybe. You know, if I have the time.

Last movie I watched:

Love Actually. Adorable.

Last TV episode I watched:

Grey’s Anatomy again. I don’t understand how that show can just keep killing people…


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