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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/diana-wynne-jones-has-written-several-fantasies-16187423.aspx

Subject:  Re: book suggestions for Harry Potter lover Date:  11/29/2001  1:35 AM
Author:  NaggingFool Number:  7549 of 42361

Diana Wynne Jones has written several fantasies for young people that are extremely charming.

I second this. I've read almost all of the books recommended in this thread. Very few of them are truly similar to Harry Potter, except for some of the books by Diana Wynne Jones. I specifically recommend "Howl's Moving Castle" and the books of Chrestomanci (charmed life; the lives of christopher chant; the magicians of caprona; witch week). I am hard pressed to imagine a child who liked Harry Potter not liking the Chrestomanci series. These books are set in a world sideways to ours where magic works instead of unseen magic users among us, but aside from that the tone is very similar.

Don't get me wrong -- these are all great books. But you said that your daughter has just started reading chapter books, so I'm recommending the more straightforward ones. If I remember the ages and personalities of your children correctly the Phillip Pullman books are almost certainly too challenging and too grim. I would also wait a year or two before the Madeleine L'engle or the Susan Cooper books. They're great books, but they can be overwhelming (the plots are significantly more convoluded than the Harry Potters; for example for me they were books I enjoyed in fifth grade). Also Madeleine L'Engle's non-fantasy books have more middle school than elementary school themes. I personally preferred Narnia when read to me; when I first read it myself I found it a bore.

Another series of books that is as optimistic as and about the same reading level as Harry Potter are the books by Tamora Pierce. She has a number of series. I of course prefer the ones that came out when I was a child -- Alanna; In the Hand of the Goddess; The woman who rides like a man; lioness rampant. But any of her series are good choices. She might be ready for the "So you want to be a Wizard" series by Diane Duane. If she hasn't read Roald Dahl yet I highly recommend all of his books.

Another category of books that might work well for her are the victorian children's works. That was my passion when I started chapter books; unfortunately I don't have those in front of me to recommend in detail. The Secret Garden and the Little Princess. All of those George McCarthy books. Not just the Wizard of Oz but all of its sequels.

Other books I remember fondly from that age: The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweather. The Westing Game. The Rats of NIMH. Biographies of Marie Curie and any other woman I could get my hands on.

I have a few more recommendations for later, or if I'm underestimating her age or ability. Robin McKinley's Blue Sword and its sequel. Jane Yolen's Sister Light, Sister Dark.

Hmm. I notice in retrospect that most of the books I love and recommend here have female lead characters.

-Megan


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