Happy International Children’s Book Day! Many of us first fell in love with the fantasy and science fiction genres when we were small, enchanted by the magic and mystery we found in the children’s section of our local library. Books for kids still contain some of the greatest creativity in the business, and Pandemonium has an ever-increasing selection of some of the best. In this article, we’ve assembled a number of great entries that will intrigue and delight young readers making their way through the speculative fiction world.
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos (Middle Grade) is the start of a genre-blending series about a girl who deals with curses and mysteries at the Museum of Legends and Antiquities. Her parents may not understand what they are dealing with when they go digging things up and bringing them back, but she is the one who has to practice ancient magic when things go wrong. Who else is going to thwart grand conspiracies and dreadful powers if she doesn’t?
Nnamdi, the protagonist of Ikenga by Nnedi Okorafor (YA), has a more personal problem: his father was murdered and he doesn’t know what he can do about it. A chance to seek justice suddenly emerges when a mysterious meeting grants him magical items and supernatural powers, but now that he has them, what is he supposed to do with them? With heroism in his heart and magic at his command, Nnamdi must learn how to control his new abilities- and more importantly, how to see justice done for all.
Venture into the beautiful and twisting world of The Thickety (YA) with the first installment in the series: A Path Begins, by J. A. White, with illustrations by Andrea Offerman. Kara and Taff are children ostracized by their village because their mother was a witch, but there is a world for them outside the village. The thickety, a sinister and mythical woods, offers hidden truths and magic beyond what the adventurous Kara could have conceived when she ventured forward, but it also contains untold dangers. Sometimes, though, we have to face danger, and in the way that we choose.
Another children’s book with a magic wood and lovely illustrations is Wildwood by Colin Meloy (Middle Grade), the poetic front man behind the band The Decemberists. Wildwood is just as enchanting as any folk song, offering its child protagonists a path into a world of talking- and warring- animals that is hidden from the eyes of most city-dwellers. Balancing intrigue and adventure, we read as young Prue has to rescue her brother in a world that is stranger than any she’d ever imagined.
If forests can be settings for so much fantasy, what about a garden? The titular protagonist in The Garden of Eve by K. L. Going (Middle Grade) has enough going on in her town already - ghosts and curses for a start - when a strange seed starts growing into a tree overnight. What makes it even odder is that only Eve and the boy who handed her the seed can see it, or follow where it seems to lead them. Even if she doesn’t believe in fairy tales, Eve has to prepare herself for eerie and uncanny events.
We hope that everyone, young and old, can find wonderfully strange adventure in the pages of a good book. We’re always happy to help you start your quest!