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Great Winter Reads

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Great Winter Tales for Young Readers

The approach of the winter solstice brings to mind some absorbing fantasy classics perfect for beginning during the holidays and continuing into the long winter months ahead.

Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising cycle begins with Over Sea, Under Stone.  Three children on vacation in Cornwall find an ancient manuscript which sends them on a dangerous quest for Arthurian treasure that entraps them in the eternal battle between the forces of the Light and the Dark.

Their story continues in The Dark Is Rising, in which Will Stanton discovers on his eleventh birthday that he has a special destiny as the last of the Old Ones, to seek the six magical Signs that will enable the Old Ones to triumph over the evil forces of the Dark.  Greenwitch is next, followed by The Grey King and, finally, Silver on the Tree.  The story is exciting, with many elements drawn from Welsh mythology and the legends of King Arthur.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis is another fine series for young readers.  In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a simple game of hide-and-seek turns into a thrilling and dangerous adventure, as four English schoolchildren step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia--a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch, who has cursed the land with eternal winter. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion Aslan signals a great change.

This first tale is followed by The Horse and His Boy, the adventure of a boy and a talking horse journeying to Narnia to warn of invading barbarians. Prince Caspian, the Return to Narnia brings the Prince and his army of talking beasts to help the children end the civil war that has gripped Narnia.  In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy and Edmund, accompanied by their peevish cousin Eustace, sail to the land of Narnia, where Eustace is temporarily transformed into a green dragon because of his selfish behavior and skepticism.  The Silver Chair and The Last Battle conclude the series with more adventures and a triumphant ending.  The Magician’s Nephew was written later, as a prequel.  Some readers like to read it first in chronological sequence, while others enjoy reading it last in the order C. S. Lewis envisioned it.

Cornelia Funke’s popular trilogy of Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath is about twelve-year-old Meggie, and her father Mo, a bookbinder, and the adventures they must face when he reads a dangerous book character to life.  Mo and Meggie love books, but Mo has not read aloud to Meggie since her mother disappeared years ago. After a mysterious stranger visits them, Mo tells Meggie they must go into hiding. Finding out why - and from whom – makes for entrancing reading.

The Redwall series by Brian Jacques (pronounced Jakes) begins with the tale of Matthias the mouse, who tries to recapture a magical sword to defend Redwall Abbey against the attack of an infamous rat.  The stories of Matthias and his clan continue in many more delightful books.

Jacques wrote his first novel, Redwall, for the children at a school for the blind in Liverpool.  Next came Mossflower, Mattimeo, Mariel of Redwall, and 16 more rousing adventures.

All of these captivating stories are available at Tazewell County Public Library.  Plan a visit to check them out before the Christmas holiday and enjoy a feast of entertaining reading by a cozy winter fire.  Call the library at 988-2541 for more information.

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