Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Eoin Colfer

I am a huge fan of Eoin Colfer, especially his Artemis Fowl series. A few years ago I played Holly Short in a brief "teaser" style adaptation of his second book in that series at the Arizona Festival of the Book. Recently I listened to Artemis Fowl: Opal Deception on CD. For years I've been pronouncing his first name (yes he's Irish) as Americans are wont to pronounce Ian, but on the CD it sounds more like Americans pronounce the name Owen. Oops. I'm trying to change it in my head. There is a fifth book in the series now (not including the companion book, The Fowl Files) entitled Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony.

Review of Opal Deception
I believed that at the end of the previous book, Colfer had written himself into a hole, but a very interesting hole. Artemis Fowl had had his memory entirely wiped of the Faerie people. Or has he? There are the mirrored contacts. At the beginning of this book, Artemis Fowl does not remember his friendships and has reverted to his previous self. Colfer does manage to bring the Fowl that he had become back, but it is an interesting journey. And it is a dangerous thing for a writer to do, to wipe away all character growth that he spent three years building. Fans will love Opal Deception. I listened to the CD and it was captivating. However I'm not feeling the urge to rush out and get the next book. With previous books I had that urge so much I preordered books in the series. Perhaps it is that the Fowl mystique is cooling for me. However I will still read the next book, and I will keep recommending the books.

I've also booktalked Artemis Fowl with great sucess with fifth through eighth graders. I tend to recommend these books to kids who like Harry Potter. If you like Artemis Fowl and/or Harry Potter, here are some other recommendations.

Gregor the Overlander (actually the series is called the Underland Chronicles) series by Suzanne Collins... It all starts innocently enough. Gregor's father has been missing for two years. He is babysitting his baby sister and she falls into a grate in their laundry room in their apartment building in New York. Gregor follows her and they float down on mists to land in an underland world. There a race of humans fly on giant bats and fight six foot rats. The four foot cockroaches have decided his sister is a princess. And the humans are pretty sure that Gregor is the warrior prophesied to save them. This book series is also very good for Narnia fans as it is light on the magic but packed with action (thus more palatable for conservative Christian families). Oh, and just for fun, did I mention that Gregor is African American, but that it isn't the point of the story and it isn't a big deal. Readers may not even realize immediately. We need characters like that. Reading level starts around 4th grade.

Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud... Welcome to an alternative London where instead of Lords and Ladies as nobility and everyone else as commoners there are wizards as nobility. Nate is a young apprentice wizard. The secret to the power of wizards lies in their ability to summon and control powerful demons. However when Nate summons a demon named Bartimaeus everyone gets more than they bargain for. These are great books, lots of action, magic, fun. They're much smarter and well written than Harry Potter in my opinion. Reading level starts around upper 5th or 6th grade.

Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo... This one is very much like Harry Potter. Charlie Bone is a half-orphan (dad disappeared, but mom's still there) with crazy black hair (no scar though). He lives with his nice (maternal) grandmother and mean (paternal) grandmother and mother and uncle. Then one day he discovers that when he looks at pictures he can hear what was being said when the photo was taken. He is a "gifted" descendant of the Red King. The Red King had a lot of children, all gifted or as they usually say endowed, and half of them tried to kill the other half. He's packed off to a boarding school for the gifted and endowed children. And the war started with the Red King rages on among his desendants. Occasionally into an evil family (like Charlie's) a good one will be born and vice versa. All of Charlie Bone's friends have different powers. And there are some magic cats and other adults who aid them along the way. Five books and the series feels complete. I can't imagine there being more, but I suppose it is possible. I didn't like this as well as Harry Potter, but it has its merits and it is a good filler. It is also an easier reading level. Starts at about 4th or maybe very high 3rd grade level.

Happy Reading!