At our household we are nearing the completion of reading The Hobbit (just two chapters left!). Last year we read some of C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis described reading George MacDonald’s fantasies as a baptism of his imagination, and I hope the same proves true for our kids.
N.D. Wilson and Andrew Peterson are two young, contemporary writers deeply influenced by Tolkien and Lewis. If you’re looking for books to read aloud, or to have your kids read—or simply to “awaken your inner eight-year-old” (as Jeffrey Overstreet says)—then their works might be worth looking into.
Some descriptions below:
North! Or Be Eaten
Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby thought they were normal children with normal lives and a normal past. But now they know they’re really the Lost Jewels of Anniera, heirs to a legendary kingdom across the sea, and suddenly everyone wants to kill them.
In order to survive, the Igibys must flee to the safety of the Ice Prairies, where the lizardlike Fangs of Dang cannot follow. First, however, they have to escape the monsters of Glipwood Forest [All possessing very sharp teeth], the thieving Stranders of the East Bend [Murderous scoundrels, the lot], and the dreaded Fork Factory [Woe!].
But even more dangerous are the jealousies and bitterness that threaten to tear them apart, and Janner and his siblings must learn the hard way that the love of a family is more important than anything else.
Once, in a cottage above the cliffs on the Dark Sea of Darkness, there lived three children and their trusty dog Nugget. Janner Igiby, his brother Tink, their crippled sister Leeli are gifted children as all children are, loved well by a noble mother and ex-pirate grandfather. But they will need all their gifts and all that love to survive the evil pursuit of the venomous Fangs of Dang who have crossed the dark sea to rule the land with malice and pursue the Igibys who hold the secret to the lost legend and jewels of good King Wingfeather of the Shining Isle of Anniera.
Andrew Peterson spins a quirky and riveting tale of the Igibys’ extraordinary journey from Glipwood’s Dragon Day Festival and a secret hidden in the Books and Crannies Bookstore, past the terrifying Black Carriage, clutches of the horned hounds and loathsome toothy cows surrounding AnkleJelly Manor, through the Glipwood Forest and mysterious treehouse of Peet the Sock Man (known for a little softshoe and wearing tattered socks on his hands and arms), to the very edge of the Ice Prairies.
Full of characters rich in heart, smarts, and courage, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness presents a world of wonder and a tale children of all ages will cherish, families can read aloud, and readers’ groups are sure to discuss for its layers of meaning about life’s true treasure and tangle of the beautiful and horrible, temporal and eternal, and good and bad.
Download the first chapter here.
The Monster in the Hollows
Janner Wingfeather’s father was the High King of Anniera. But his father is gone. The kingdom has fallen. The royal family is on the run, and the Fang armies of Gnag the Nameless are close behind.
Janner and his family hope to find refuge in the last safe place in the world: the Green Hollows—a land of warriors feared even by Fangs of Dang. But there’s a big problem. Janner’s little brother—heir to the throne of Anniera—has grown a tail. And gray fur. Not to mention two pointed ears and long, dangerous fangs. To the suspicious folk of the Green Hollows he looks like a monster.
But Janner knows better. His brother isn’t as scary as he looks. He’s perfectly harmless.
Or is he?
Join the Wingfeathers on an adventure filled with mystery, betrayal, and sneakery in a land of tasty fruits. There’s a monster on the loose and the truth lurks in the shadows
Twelve-year-old Henry York is going to sleep one night when he hears a bump on the attic wall above his head. It’s an unfamiliar house—Henry is staying with his aunt, uncle, and three cousins—so he tries to ignore it.
But the next night he wakes up with bits of plaster in his hair. Two knobs have broken through the wall, and one of them is slowly turning. . . .
Henry scrapes the plaster off the wall and discovers doorsâ€”ninety-nine cupboards of all different sizes and shapes. Through one he can hear the sound of falling rain. Through another he sees a glowing room—with a man strolling back and forth! Henry and his cousin Henrietta soon understand that these are not just cupboards. They are, in fact, portals to other worlds.
100 Cupboards is the first book of a new fantasy adventure, written in the best world-hopping tradition and reinvented in N.D. Wilson’s own inimitable style.
Henry York never dreamed his time in Kansas would open a door to adventure—much less a hundred doors. But a visit to his aunt and uncle’s farm took an amazing turn when cupboard doors, hidden behind Henry’s bedroom wall, revealed themselves to be portals to other worlds. Now, with his time at the farm drawing to a close, Henry makes a bold decision: he must go through the cupboards to find the truth about where he’s from and who his parents are. Following that trail will take him from one world to another, and ultimately into direct conflict with the evil of Endor.
Dandelion Fire is the second book of N.D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards, a new fantasy adventure that follows the magical exploits of Henry York and his cousins.
When Henry York found 99 cupboards hidden behind his bedroom wall, he never dreamed they were doors to entirely new worlds! Unfortunately, Henry’s discovery freed an ancient, undying witch, whose hunger for power would destroy every world connected to the cupboards—and every person whom Henry loves. Henry must seek out the legendary Chestnut King for help. Everything has a price, however, and the Chestnut King’s desire may be as dangerous as the witch herself.
N. D. Wilson concludes a remarkable, worlds-spanning journey that began with one boy and one hundred avenues to adventure.
The Chestnut King is the third book of N.D. Wilson’s 100 Cupboards, a new fantasy adventure that follows the magical exploits of Henry York and his cousins.