Nancy Farmer is a master storyteller. She has won three Newbery Honor awards for books such as The Eye, the Ear, and the Arm; A Girl Named Disaster and The House of the Scorpion, which also garnered the National Book Award. Farmer's fans probably each have a personal favorite. Mine is Farmer's lyrical, astounding adventure, The Sea of Trolls, which introduced readers to 11-year-old Jack and his little sister, Lucy, who live in eighth-century Britain. After the children are captured by Northmen, Jack finds himself on a dangerous quest, battling dragons and giant spiders to save his sister. Farmer, who mined Viking history and Norse legends for The Sea of Trolls, explores the worlds of elves and hobgoblins in its sequel, The Land of the Silver Apples. The story is set two years later, and opens on the longest, darkest day of the year. As events unfold, Jack is thrust into a different kind of quest: one that brings him not to the ice-clad lands of the North, but into dark, dangerous caves and the enchanted, shimmering world of the elves.
Based on Farmer's usual meticulous research, The Land of the Silver Apples brings to life a time when belief in magic and the old gods conflicts with Christianity. Jack is an engaging hero brave and compassionate, but not without a temper and his share of human faults. Fans of the first book will be especially delighted with the reappearance of several old friends, including the wise Bard and Thorgill, the feisty shield maiden who became Jack's unlikely ally in his first quest. The third book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy, The Islands of the Blessed, is due out in 2009. If you and your family have finished the last Harry Potter book and are eager for new worlds to explore, you won't be disappointed by Nancy Farmer's masterful and imaginative storytelling.
Deborah Hopkinson's latest book for young readers is Sweet Land of Liberty (Peachtree).