April 26, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: The Fire Chronicle

STEPHENS, John. The Fire Chronicle. Bk. 2. 436p. (Illustrated fantasy novel book cover with 3 childrenThe Books of Beginning Series). Knopf. Oct. 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0-375-86871-9; PLB $20.99. ISBN 978-0-375-96871-6; ebook $10.99. ISBN 978-0-375-89956-0.
Gr 4-7–Fifteen-year-old Kate, almost 13-year-old Michael, and 12-year-old Emma don’t know why Dr. Pym sent them back to the dreadful orphanage at the end of The Emerald Atlas (Knopf, 2011), but Kate, who learned to control the power of the Atlas to travel through time, knows they need to leave as soon as possible. In the first chapter of Chronicle, a monstrous Screecher attacks, and Kate lures it into the past at the exact moment Dr. Pym appears to retrieve Michael and Emma. While Kate deals with the Dickensian world of 1899 New York on the eve of Separation, when the magical and mundane worlds will split for good, Michael, Emma, and Pym search for information about the other two books in a variety of unlikely places. This is a roller-coaster ride of a story, which includes old friends and new, a visit to Antarctica, the rescue of an Elf Princess (who is sometimes a dragon), a touch of doomed romance, a generous leavening of humor, life, death, betrayal, and (just a warning) a nasty little cliff-hanger of an ending. It is really Michael’s story–he deals with unimaginable challenges with humor, courage, and insight. Knowledge of the first book is suggested; readers who start with this one will definitely want to backtrack. Fans of the first book won’t be disappointed, and will eagerly anticipate the next one. The Emerald Atlas was very good. This one is even better.–Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library