Series fiction for children doesn’t always get the respect it deserves. Some parents and teachers look down on series (Goosebumps, Animorphs, The Baby-sitter’s Club, etc.) as less than stellar examples of fine literature. But let’s get real: Children love a good series and what could be bad about getting kids hooked on books? If your child picks up a book in the Magic Tree House series and loves it, isn’t it a relief to know that there are 45 more Magic Tree House books waiting in the wings?
With the back-to-school season in high gear, we’ve assembled a preview of several new series for middle grade readers (ages 8 to 12) launching this fall. The focus is on fantasy and adventure, with plenty of mystery and magic as well. Maybe one of these new series will get a young reader you know hooked on reading:
Now available Lost! A Dog Called Bear. For the younger end of the age group (ages 7 to 10), this heart-tugging story about a boy who loses a dog and the girl who finds him will appeal to animal lovers everywhere. Sample dialogue: “We can’t keep him,” said her mom. “He’ll run away again, and this time he might get hurt.” Australian author Wendy Orr will continue the series with more stories from the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter.
Aug. 30 Wildwood. The first book by Decemberists lead singer Colin Meloy (younger brother of writer Maile Meloy) is a whopping 500-plus pages of richly imagined and beautifully written fantasy set in the Impassable Wilderness, a dark forest from which no one who enters ever returns. Sample Dialogue: “Try to keep it down, Curtis. We don’t want to alert the whole Wilderness that we’re here. Who knows what’s out there?” This first entry in the Wildwood Chronicles series includes wonderfully detailed illustrations by Carson Ellis, Colin Meloy’s wife and illustrator of The Mysterious Benedict Society, as well as the Decemberists’ album covers.
Sept. 6 Return to Exile kicks off The Hunter Chronicles, E.J. Patten’s action-packed series about a pre-teen monster hunter named Sky. Exile is the town where Sky was born, and trouble awaits when his family returns there. Sample dialogue: “Now that we all have permission, let’s see if we can capture this abomination.” Includes a handy monster reference at the end for help in differentiating Shadow Wargs from Edgewalkers.
Sept. 13 Ghosts of Rockville: Search for the Dominion Glass is the first in a planned five-book series by Justin Heimberg about four ghost-busting friends doing battle in the spirit world. Sample dialogue: “An ion generator. Watch out! Touch those coils and you’ll get shocked big-time.” There’s an interactive twist to the story, too: “exclusive, patented MagicView (™) technology” that lets readers use a special viewer to hunt for clues in the book.
Oct. 4 The Inquisitor’s Apprentice, the first book in the NYPD Inquisitor series by science fiction writer Chris Moriarty. Set in New York City in the early days of the 20th century, this inventive new series features an interesting main character: Sacha, a Jewish boy from the Lower East Side on the trail of “magical crime.” Sacha is tapped, along with the rich and spoiled Lily Astral, to become an apprentice to the top Inquisitor in town—and all three work to discover who is trying to kill Thomas Edison. Electrifying!
Oct. 4 Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King. Who knew that Santa Claus was once a daredevil swordsman? Acclaimed author, artist and filmmaker William Joyce unwinds the story behind such childhood icons as Santa and the Man in the Moon in a new Guardians of Childhood series that will include both picture books and chapter books. The 150,000 first printing for Nicholas St. North is indicative of Simon & Schuster’s high expectations for this series, which is already being adapted into an animated film.
PLUS: Coming in January, best-selling author Ann Hood resurrects a beloved series from her own childhood in The Treasure Chest, an eight-book series that will portray real figures in American history through the eyes of time-traveling twins Maisie and Felix. Can’t wait!
What were your favorite series as a young reader? What series do your kids enjoy today?
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