By Margaret Clay
It is hard to believe that summer is already beginning to wind down when it seems like Memorial Day was only yesterday. Somehow, there is no slowing down the rapid depletion of these slow days. However, the long dog-days of schedule-less freedom are numbered, and that means limited time to finish summer reading logs. Thankfully, if there are still numerous slots to be filled, Young Adult novel series can be a fast and fun way to knock out multiple books while continuing a story that already engages your child. Who knows, you might even add some of these to your own summer reading log!
You may have read about the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series in the June issue, and if those books connected with your child, good news — Rick Riordan’s YA writing is prolific as he has created many other mythology series for voracious young readers. Two of these series expose children to two other major cultural traditions — Egyptian mythology and Norse mythology.
The Kane Chronicles
Like Percy Jackson, the protagonists of “The Kane Chronicles” (siblings Carter and Sadie Kane) alternatively narrate their tale of discovering their divine heritage. Descended from the two pharaohs Narmer and Ramses the Great, these siblings discover that they are powerful magicians who must contend with the Egyptian gods and goddesses, who still interact with the real world despite most people’s oblivion of them. These books sport Riordan’s typical fast-paced, action-driven plot that will keep young readers on the edges of their seats … all while receiving a lesson on Egyptian mythology. Once the trilogy is finished, fans have the delightful opportunity to read Demigods and Magicians — a series of short stories where the worlds of Ancient Greece and Egypt collide when the Kanes meet “Percy Jackson” protagonists Percy and Annabeth. These magic-wielding teens find they must team up in order to defeat an ancient enemy who is mixing Greek and Egyptian magic to ultimately rule the world.
As a middle school teacher, Riordan was inspired to write this series after completing “Percy Jackson” and discovering that the only subject in ancient history that his students enjoyed more than Ancient Greece was Ancient Egypt.
By these books here.
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
In the trilogy “Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard,” the titular hero is actually cousins with Annabeth Chase of “Percy Jackson,” thus linking the two series together. In the first book, Magnus discovers that he is the son of the Norse fertility god Frey and is immediately confronted by a fire giant named Surt, who plans to hasten the end of the world by freeing the Fenris Wolf. Magnus must enlist the help of a valkyrie, a dwarf named Blitz, and an elf named Hearth to attempt to foil the giant.
Norse mythology was a major influence in J. R. R. Tolkien’s creation of Middle Earth, and LOTR fans will enjoy a deeper acquaintance with the original folklore that inspired that beloved series. The third and final book in Riordan’s newest trilogy will release this fall.
By these books here.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
For the sci-fi lover in your household, have you discovered Douglas Adams’ “trilogy in five parts,” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? The wit in these books is classically British — dry and somewhat sophisticated while playing with the ludicrous — making this series probably best suited for a slightly older child who appreciates this droll type of humor. Arthur Dent finds himself to be the last surviving man from Earth (following the demolition of the planet by a Vogon constructor fleet to make way for a hyperspace bypass) when he is rescued at the moment of destruction by his friend Ford Prefect, who turns out not to be a human at all. Ford is an alien writer for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and has been researching the planet Earth for the guide for a number of years. Arthur goes on to explore the galaxy with Ford and learns information such as that the planet Earth was just one big experiment set up by lab rats to study humans, how to use a Babel Fish to interpret other galaxy languages, and the ins and outs of Vogon poetry.
The story combines science fiction with the finest tradition of English humor and was originally broadcast as a radio comedy on the BBC in 1978. Its popularity led to later adaptations into novels, comic books, stage shows, a 1981 TV series, a 1984 computer game, and finally a movie in 2005. The Folio Society has published all five books in their usual fine quality, illustrated by Jonathan Burton.
Buy these books here.
For the younger reader, he or she can still enjoy British fantasy storytelling in a more traditional manner with “The Borrowers” series. Have you ever wondered what exactly happens to all the safety pins? Factories keep on manufacturing them, yet there is never one handy when most needed. These five books chronicle the adventures of one small family of “borrowers” — little people who live within the walls and beneath the floors and who “borrow” anything within their grasp. They are a very inventive people as they must cleverly construct human homes and lives for themselves using the over-sized goods that people leave lying about.
The big adventures in which these little people continually find themselves are enthralling, and readers will become enamored with Pod, Homily and young Arrietty… and with the rare few children who are lucky enough to make their acquaintance.
By these books here.