13 November 2008

What We're Reading Since Harry

Lately I've been feeling wistful and nostalgic for the good ol' days of waiting for the next Harry Potter book. Waiting for the next movie just isn't the same, though I am looking forward to that, too (Half Blood Prince is expected to be released next summer). Reading the series out loud to my children, over the better part of the past decade, has been one of our most treasured family activities, and I do miss that. Of all the books I've enjoyed reading to my children since DoRena and Zachary were little, none have been quite as much fun, or quite as riveting for all of us, as the Harry Potter books. The completion of the seventh book in 2007 was like the end of an era.

I'm not done reading out loud to my children, however. In addition to the books I read to myself for the sake of preaching and teaching and ongoing self-education, I'm always on the look out for good books to read to my family. Whenever I find a good series, I love it, because it means there will be a sequel for us to enjoy next, rather than simply the bittersweet beautiful goodbye of a story ending.

Not long ago, I read the last book (so far) in The Edge Chronicles, by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. We have nine books in that series, and I don't know if there will be any more or not. As I recall, we first discovered those books while we were waiting for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, because we were hungry for something to wile away the waiting. What a great discover The Edge Chronicles turned out to be. They're witty and clever, engaging and fun. My children and I have all thoroughly enjoyed them. No, they're not as profound as Harry Potter, and I have no intentions of looking for deep theological significance in them, but I've simply reveled in the creativity, inventiveness and literary craftsmanship in these books. I've occasionally likened The Edge Chronicles to a cross between Lewis Carroll and Dr. Seus. I suppose they're aimed at adolescents, but, as I say, we've all enjoyed them immensely together.

Now we're in the midst of reading Peter and the Shadow Thieves, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. This is the sequel to Peter and the Starcatchers, which I read to the children several years ago. There's already a third book in the series, Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. These books are all part of a creatively imagined and semi-humorous pre-history to the classic story of Peter Pan. The first book was fun (I remember reading it on our vacation to Nebraska and Texas back in 2004), but I think we're all enjoying Peter and the Shadow Thieves even more. The authors have really done a nice job with these stories, in a way that is respectful of the original without attempting to mimic it or following its details slavishly. I'm already looking forward to reading the third book, once we've finished the one we're in the middle of.


Susan said...

Have you seen Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome? I think it's probably our all-time favorite after Little House and Harry.

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

No, that one doesn't sound familiar (other than, I think perhaps I've seen you comment on it on your blog). Thanks for the recommendation.

sarahlaughed said...

Glad you guys are finding some engaging books. :D Enjoy it while you're young, before you get old like me. :P

I still hold out for Tolkien. Yeah, I know some people find his works dry reading and antiquated but they have a richness to them by development and by analogy.(Not to make a comparison, but the "old and boring" arguement has also been used on such sacred things as the liturgy.) So much beauty and symbolism was missed by the _Lord of the Rings_ movie makers.
And now that I'm on my "defending Tolkien books" hobby-horse, ( though I don't know who I'm trying to convince :P) I've got to put in a recommendation for his translation of _Sir Gawain and the Green Knight_ as well. If they can stand poetry, that's one story I think all growing young men should read. I certainly hope my brothers do.

Hmm. A long unstructured comment, as usual....

*makes a clumsy hasty exit*

Rev. Rick Stuckwisch said...

There's nothing clumsy about your exits, Truth Questioner. And no need to apologize for praising Tolkien. As far as that goes, he and C.S. Lewis were among J.K. Rowling's foremost influences.

Susan, turns out that my dear wife has read the Swallows and Amazons to our little darlings. I am familiar with those stories, which I often overheard (and heard about) as they were being shared; I just didn't know the name. For shame ;-)

Anan said...

I recently finished listening to "Peter And The Secret Of Rundoon" on CD. It was relatively good, but enjoy "The Shadow Thieves" while you can, I was somewhat dissapointed by the third. It was sorta like the 3rd Star Wars movie, in that it filled those blanks that really didn't need filling. I was going "well duh" quite a bit.

Someone in your family (can't remember who) mentioned that at one point you started reading the E. Nesbit books. Unless I'm mistaken and you actually did read them all, I suggest you do so soon. Those are the best fiction books I've ever read. They aren't strictly a series per-say, but there are several books with the same main characters and the beloved "Sand Fairy" turns up repeatedly. *wanders off into E. Nesbit land*