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What To Read After Harry: December 2007
© Deanna Toxopeus
December 12, 2007

The holiday season is upon us and you have to get something for the littlest genre fan on your list. You have the Harry Potter socks, bedsheets, ornaments and ringtones, but you have nothing for them to read. You feel guilt. You rack rack your brains for something more literary to place under the Christmas tree, or the Hannukah bush or the Kinara. Never fear. RevolutionSF is here!

If you haven't seen the first three installments of this column, I recommend you read August, September, and October. They are full of suggestions of genre books for the younger fan. If you bought everything on those lists already, no need to panic. Here are three more suggestions to keep the young Gryffindor busy this midwinter season.

City of The Beasts

Writer: Isabelle Alende / Reading Level: Grade 7 / Suggested Audience: Grade 6 up / Target Audience: Fantasy lovers and environmentalists.

Isabel Allende is better known as an adult author, with The House of Spirits and Portrait in Sepia. City of The Beasts is her first entry into the young adult market. Based on the complexity and richness of this tale, this woman needs to keep writing books for the tween and teen set.

Alex is sent to live with his grandmother, Kate. A world renowned writer, Kate is a cross between Captain Janeway and Auntie Mame, eccentric and crotchety.

Kate has been hired to write an article on the mysterious Beast of the upper Amazon river Basin, a mythical creature that may be responsible for some disappearances and deaths. She packs up Alex and takes him along, because it's less dangerous than leaving him alone in New York.

In Brazil, Alex, a girl who can speak to the spirits, and her pet monkey, travel up the Amazon with Kate's party to find proof of the Beast.

This story weaves fantasy elements into a tale of the effects on colonialism of indigenous people. It is a coming of age tale. Harry Potter fans will love the kids playing the role of heroes. Parents and teachers will love how it deals with the environamental, cultural and human issues surrounding the Amazon. I like that there are two more books that follow this one.

Not so good is Walden Media has purportedly optioned the movie rights for a movie.

The Ear, the Eye and the Arm

Writer: Nancy Farmer / Reading Level: Grade 5 / Suggested Audience: Grade 6 and up / Target Audience: Sci-fi and mystery fans.

Ear, The Eye, and the Arm are the names of three detetives who have been hired to find the missing children of Zimbabwe's chief of security. The Eye has super vision. The Ear has super hearing. The Arm can sense emotions.

While the detectives are the title characters, this book is about Tendai, the eldest of the general's children. He and his siblings navigate the dangerous underworld of a Zimbabwe almost 2000 years in the future. They're captured and sold as slaves to the She-Elephant.

This sci-fi novel deals with teenage rebellion, environmental degredation, gangs and poverty. Kids will love the coming of age story as the children play their part in saving the day. It`s just fun to watch the Ear, the Eye and the Arm run around trying to catch up to the kids.

Among the Hidden

Writer: Margaret Peterson Haddix / Reading Level: Grade 5 / Suggested Audience: Grade 5 and up / Target Audience: The Lone Gunmen in Training in your house.

Luke is a third child in a world where every couple is only allowed to have two. His family hides him in the attic. Through a vent in the attic, Luke notices a face in the window of one of the Baron`s homes after everyone has left and realizes, there is another third child. Jen tries to get him to join in the fight to free the shadow children.

Haddix has created an utterly believable dystopia in this book. Children will identify with Luke's pain and boredom of being locked up. They will also cheer when he finally has someone outside the family to talk to. The resolution of the story, while heartbreaking, is also right on track and opens this up for a continuing series, something kids love.

Deanna Toxopeus writes Ubalblog and is a RevolutionSF staff writer.

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