Thursday, December 15, 2011

Storytime With Venessa: The Emerald Atlas

Normally I’d have a video of Venessa giving her thoughts on the books I’ve read to her. But it’s been a while since we finished The Emerald Atlas, and Venessa fell asleep a few times throughout our journey. Not that the book was boring! No, far from it. It’s just that this was the longest book we attempted to read together and our reading time is close to her bedtime and she’d just fall asleep. Kids these days, falling asleep at bedtime like they’re supposed to! Honestly, what will they do next? Volunteer to clear the table after dinner?

Anyways, you’ll only get my perspective of The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. It’s the story of Kate, Michael and Emma, three siblings, shuffled around to different orphanages, still holding onto the belief that their parents are still alive and will come from them one day. Their last stop is a mysterious house in a mysterious valley that is devoid of children. It’s here that they discover a magic book that takes them back in time where a terrible Countess has the valley under her control.

This felt a little like familiar territory. We’ve got a trio of children discovering magic for the first time, which made me think of Harry, Hermione and Ron. There’s also a strange man with a sword who came to their rescue and protected them from evil creatures wrapped in bandages (called Screechers). This reminded me of Aragorn protecting the Hobbits from the Black Riders in The Fellowship of the Ring, and these Screechers were also very reminiscent of the Dementors from Harry Potter. There’s also a magic book that reminded me of Riddle’s Diary from Harry Potter, the book Bastian reads in The Neverending Story and the Book of Gramarye from The Dark Is Rising. And of course when magic is involved there has to be an old wizard who knows more than he lets on and slowly reveals more when he sees fit (visions of Gandalf, Dumbledore and Merriman). Oh and there’s Dwarves too.

BUT I think it’s because of these very familiar elements I liked this story. I love Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Neverending Story and The Dark Is Rising. I love the different elements of these stories wrapped up in this new, thrilling adventure. This book does have a voice of its own with a different story to tell and I really enjoyed it.

There were times though when the author would begin describing a situation, only to rewind to explain how they got there. This happened a few times and confused me and Venessa. Also there were some really long sentences. However, it didn’t keep this book from being one that was still very easy to read aloud. And I do love Kate, Michael and Emma. They felt like real kids, the way they would pick on each other and squabble the way siblings do, yet they care very deeply for each other as a family should. I want to give them all hugs. I’m definitely looking forward to Book 2 to see what happens next as they learn more and more about their magical abilities. And the cover art is just beautiful!

Next up for us, Redwall by Brian Jacques! I did a happy dance when Venessa picked this book for me to read aloud to her.


  1. Yay!! You and Venessa are going to read Redwall. I love Redwall!! Of course you already know that. You have to read Mossflower with her too.

  2. It is very exciting Sarah. You are a wonderful mom.
    Keep it up.
    Best Wishes,

  3. I do have Mossflower waiting just in case ;)

    And thank you, Sally! :)