Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The problem of checking out bags of books from the library is sometimes you forget to read them until right before they are due. Yesterday I received an email reminding me that John Stephens The Emerald Atlas would be due on Monday. I was worried – I am in the middle of The Story of Mankind and wasn’t sure how quickly I’d be able to finish it. Luckily, as fate would have it, I “forgot” The Story of Mankind at school yesterday and had time to read other books.

It was 9:00 pm last night when I picked up The Emerald Atlas. I told myself I’d read a chapter or two and then more the following day. At 1 am I finally made myself put the book down. I had been waiting for a “slow” spot or one where I was sure the kids were safe to stop reading. There aren’t any. Any spare minute I had today, I read, finishing it up just a bit ago.


The book begins with a prologue where you learn that the three main characters – Kate, Michael, and Emma – were left by their parents when they were young children. Their parents left them because they, the children, were in danger. The siblings bounced around from orphanage to orphanage but never really find a home. Kate is the leader and had promised her mom she would take care of her siblings. Michael is wise and often bullied. Emma is spunky, doesn’t think before she acts, and fiercely protective of her brother and sister.

It is when they are sent to their final orphanage that the children find that there is much more to this world than meets the eye. They become involved in a place where time travel is possible, dwarves are very much alive, and somewhere that a prophecy has foretold the importance of these children in saving the world.

An educator note, I read the prologue to my students today. We have been studying the importance of setting and it’s meaning beyond time and place. The students took notes on those first eight pages as I read and then completed a quick sketch of what they visualized. It was amazing to see what they came up with and also helped create a book buzz in our classroom with kids begging me to buy multiple copies and others running to the school library to “get the book first.” Highly recommend this one for your classroom!

Author's website: John Stephens

Reading level: 5th and up
Genre: Fantasy
Appeals to: Boys and Girls
Rating: Five Stars
Release date: Out now