Monday, September 12, 2011

The Emerald Atlas

The Emerald Atlas
by John Stephens
Knopf, 2011. 417 pgs. Fantasy.

Three children are spirited away from their home on a cold winter's night, but only Kate, the eldest, remembers her parents and her mother's earnest request that she look after the other two until they can be together again. Kate's burden of caring grows exponentially after the convent where they are hidden burns to the ground and they find themselves in a series of nasty orphanages until they wind up in the oddest place of all--the orphanage of Dr. Stanislaus Pym, where they are the only three orphans. While there, Kate finds a green book which the children discover, quite by accident, enables time travel. Kate, Michael, and Emma's subsequent adventures with the truly wicked Shirley-Temple-like little "countess" of Cambridge Falls and her terrible Screechers bring them all to the edge of despair, but their own courage, plus the courage of their new-found friends (dwarves among them!) save them--for the time being. First in the Books of Beginning series, The Emerald Atlas is a ripsnorter well-suited for fans of Brandon Mull and Jenny Nimmo.

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