By Holly Johnson, University of Cincinnati
The last two books to round out 2018 will also take us into 2019 since both are the first books of a series. And the best (or worst, depending on how you think about this) is they are fantastic adventures… that you will need to wait (impatiently if you are like me) for their second titles! Yet, while I call them fantastic, and they are, I really resisted reading both of these books because they are the first two in a series in which their companions are not available. When it comes to story, I am hard-pressed to delay gratification! The two books of which I speak are The Book of Dust (2017) by Philip Pullman and Children of Blood and Bone (2108) by Tomi Adeyemi.
As Marilyn and Holly share their thoughts on books that present situations of pain and bravery as young people learn to negotiate the difficulties of life, they consider The Book of Dust, Volume I, La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman. Like the books discussed previously, this book offers surprises and a bit of controversy. It is worthy of reading time, but waiting for the next book may be tough.
If you were enthralled by Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials series, you will welcome his new book, The Book of Dust: Volume One La Belle Sauvage. It is a prequel to the first book in the previous series, The Golden Compass. When I read the first chapter of this new book I relished the feeling of reentering Pullman’s familiar fantasy world. Pullman is a master storyteller. In this story, he weaves another powerful and fantastic adventure saga. The star of this book is Malcolm, an 11-year-old boy whose parents run an Inn in Oxford. Malcolm helps out there and in the Priory across the river from the Inn. At the Priory, Malcolm meets the baby, Lyra, whose father, Lord Astrial, left her there to be protected by the nuns. After he meets the 6-month-old Lyra, he becomes “her servant for life.” Later Malcolm saves Lyra from a danger that threatens her life. To keep her safe he undertakes a heroic journey in his canoe. When a terrible flood changes the landscape, Malcolm battles against horrific odds to protect Lyra. Along the way, Pullman strews nuggets of wonder that enthrall the reader. When we reach the end of that journey and the book on page 450, there is a promise: “To be continued.” Hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to re-enter the world of Pullman’s Dark Materials, since two more books are planned. -Recommended by Marilyn Carpenter, Professor Emeritus, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA Continue reading