Part of my journey into recommending kids books has reunited me with some books that I really loved as a child that have fallen by the wayside.
My book club and I have a series where we read/reread some of our favorite series from childhood together (so far we have done A Series of Unfortunate Events and my favorite series from childhood Pendragon) This is going to be a similar thing but I am going to endeavor to do it on my own.
Disclaimer: some of the series that I discuss may be currently out of print so using your local used book stores, libraries, or online stores may be the best/only option for finding them if you are interested.
Book Title: Midnight for Charlie Bone
Series Title: Children of the Red King
Page #: 416
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
This was a book that I found at my school’s library, brought home, and loved. It took me a while to remember the title of it when I thought back and wanted to reread it. It definitely wasn’t the series that grabbed me but I did remember the world and some of the characters as well as my affinity for it. I feel like I read it during a period of time that I was transitioning out of middle grade and into young adult so I didn’t continue on with the series (which may have helped my recollection of the title). I wanted to go back and read it to see if it was worth recommending and boy was it difficult for me to find. I did manage to find a set of the series on Amazon but if you can find it at a used book store or library I would highly recommend that over using Amazon.
Now, I reread this guy and actually found myself being sucked right back into the world. There were a number of reviews online that discussed this series as a Harry Potter wannabe and while I agree that it was originally marketed as such (I mean, look at that cover … it evokes all of the same feelings that the HP covers did). However, I feel like having actually read it that there are very few similarities between HP and this series. Sure, boy goes to a school because he can do magic, sounds a lot like HP but aside from that general idea, not very much in common. However, it might be a good one to hand over to a child who has finished HP and is looking for something new, if they are interested in magic and adventure, this one definitely falls into that vein.
So what makes this story unique? For one, the magic users are a small minority at this school, for another, the people who run the school are the villains not the good guys, plus, the main character has a very large and extended family he can rely on to support him. Generally Charlie is not a “chosen one” for any reason other than his family is quite affluent in the society. Outside of that, he is a rather unspectacular boy. He is going to this school, against his wishes, and feels alienated within the school aside from a few other outcast friends who actually seem to make more sense at the school than he himself does. There are friends who have magic, there are friends who are just incredibly talented in various forms of art. There are characters who are conflicted within their own wants and desires, and characters who seem fairly straight forward. In the end it is Charlie who needs saving by his classmates and not the other way around.
While I have not yet continued reading the series, just these few differences make the components of the story incredibly different and interesting in their own right. The characters at times felt very one note, but so did the characters in the first HP book. So that is something to take note of. I wouldn’t write off the book yet, because I did really enjoy the plot of the book and I would hope that they become more interesting as time progresses in the story. Most of the focus of the first book was world building and alliance making. It had very little to do with the growth of characters, but that is common of books meant to be in a series.
The overarching plot of the series was interesting enough to make me want to continue reading without feeling like there was no resolution for the book. The parts of the mystery of the world we did figure out were enough to feel like something was accomplished, and the plot of the book on its own was also rewarding. It illustrated the power of the villains while also highlighting the power of teamwork and empathy rather than the true power of the main character. The idea of this book is to explore a fantasy world where there is no singular savior which in a way I find very refreshing as even adult fantasy novels tend to rely heavily on a chosen one trope.
This is definitely a series to grab if you have a fantasy obsessed kid and one to discuss with the first HP book as a counterpoint perhaps. It would definitely be worth while to read as an independent reading books and felt like it was appropriate for younger readers who may not be ready to continue with some of the later HP books or a book for kids who need something easier language wise but want content similar to HP.
If there are any books or series that you remember but can’t quite remember whether you loved it or what in particular was interesting then please leave a comment down below and I will try and see if I can grab a copy to discuss. (Personally I know that I want to read Artemis Fowl because I missed out on it as a child but am open to other suggestions as well).