Comments by Berni Phillips, original Official Editor (Queen of Faerie) of the Mythopoeic Society Children's Fantasy Special Interest Group amateur publishing association ("apa") bi-monthly Once Upon a Time, and member of the Awards Committee--used by permission
More to be added from other commentators.
David Almond, SKELLIG: Interesting, original, sensitive fantasy
young boy who discovers a funny little winged man living in the garage.
This Skellig helps take the little boy's mind off his very ill little
sister. This is one of my top five.
Franny Billingsley, THE FOLK KEEPER: Another very good one.
masquerades as young boy to become the folk keeper, a person who keeps the
nasty wee folk at bay at great risk to his own life and limb. Billingsley
also throws in the selkies.
Dia Calhon, FIREGOLD: This one was too cliched for me. Young
different and goes off to find others of his own kind. I've read too many
similar things and there was nothing here to grab me.
Susan Cooper, KING OF SHADOWS: Modern boy, acting in a Shakespeare
goes back in time to play with the real Shakespeare. Pleasant but not
Cooper's best--rather lightweight.
Bruce Coville, SONG OF THE WANDERER: Another disappointment.
I've loved a
number of things Coville's written, but this sure wasn't one of them. All I
could think of was that he was trying to make money by writing a fantasy
about a girl and her unicorn friends. Bring back Jeremy Thatcher, dragon
hatcher please! That had some life.
Soinbhe Lally, A HIVE FOR THE HONEYBEE: It just like the movie
Gerald Morris, THE SQUIRE, HIS KNIGHT, AND HIS LADY: I don't
this book. I know I read at least a hundred pages of it, perhaps the whole
thing. What does that tell you?
Donna Jo Napoli, CRAZY JACK: An interesting retelling of Jack
beanstalk, aimed at a somewhat younger reader than most of the others on the
list. I thought this was good enough for the final list.
Tamora Pierce, THE CIRCLE OF MAGIC series: I liked this even
though it was
a series. Four different kids, all from different places with different
powers, are thrown together because their magic is like the magic of the
other kids-with-magic. It teeters on political correctness (you have a
generic European girl, the pretty cheerleader type; a generic European girl,
the fat and picked on type; a black girl, feisty and smart; and an Asian
boy, the street urchin type) but doesn't fall into it because Pierce manages
to round out the characters and make them equally intersting. This is
something I could see buying for my nieces and nephews. I voted for it.
J.K. Rowling, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN: What
can I say?
I'm a sucker for Harry Potter.
Neal Shusterman, DOWNSIDERS: Not really fantasy, this book
about the kids
and grown-ups who live underneath New York (except, of course, for the bit
about people living underneath New York City). The story and characters
were very much like too many other things I've read.
Jan Siegel, PROSPERO'S CHILDREN: Not out in the U.S. The
last I heard,
it's coming out here in October, not May.
Jean Thesman, THE OTHER ONES: Another I can't remember even
though I read
Cynthia Voigt, KINGDOM series: I'm sorry, I do not believe
books should include a brutal gang rape of a young girl in the first
chapter. No matter where the author goes from there, I can't go with her.
Jane Yolen, TARTAN MAGIC series: Gee, it's nice to see that
able to put her time in Scotland to good use. I don't mean that to sound as
snide as it probably does. Like CRAZY JACK, I'd say these are aimed at
younger readers. As a result, the stories are much thinner. I did admire
what Yolen did, though, and part of that was consciously to give kids a
flavor of Scotland. She uses some dialect and includes a glossary at the
back of each book.
Didn't I read something of this before, Once Upon a Time
Walk through the wood between the
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