Magic and Fantasy
The Harry Potter books have persuaded huge numbers of children to overcome their reluctance to reading. The problem is where to go next so here are some suggestions.
Pendragon: The Merchant of Death
by D J Machale
(Simon and Schuster)
Bobby Pendragon is a normal 14 year old boy - or so he thinks - until his Uncle Press introduces him to a terrifying new reality where he must travel through flumes between alternate worlds to battle a shape-shifting villain called Saint Dane. The book draws the reader in straightaway and lets them share Bobby's confusion and fear as he struggles to understand what's going on. Written partly from Bobby's viewpoint and partly from the viewpoint of his two friends in his own world, the book is fast moving and packed with action. The danger feels real - it's not just the villains who die. This is the first book in the Pendragon series so there are plenty more to move on to if this one is a hit. The books are free standing but there is an over arching storyline so it's best to read them in the right order.
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Amulet of Samarkand
by Jonathan Stroud
Set in a parallel version of England ruled by corrupt and greedy magicians, this exciting story features an apprentice magician set on revenge and the djinni he summons. When they steal the Amulet of Samarkand, they find themselves up caught up in a plot of intrigue and murder involving the most powerful magicians in the land. The book is written partly in the viewpoint of the boy apprentice and partly in the delightfully tongue-in-cheek viewpoint of the djinni, Bartimaeus. This sounds peculiar but it works well and isn't confusing as each chapter is written in one consistent viewpoint.
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Both these books are collections of stories about magic and wizardry. Written by well-known authors such as Philip Pullman, Jaqueline Wilson, Roald Dahl and E Nesbit, they are a good way to let children try a variety of styles and tempt them to read longer books by the same people. In addition to the authors already named, the writers of the sixteen stories in The Wizard's Den include Gillan Cross, Joan Aiken, John Wyndham and Diana Wynne Jones while the writers of the fifteen stories in Magician's Circle include Charles Dickens, Alan Garner, L Frank Baum and Ray Bradbury.
Buy The Wizards' Den from Amazon
Buy Magician's Circle from Amazon