The Emerald Atlas
The Emerald Atlas
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Series: Books Of Beginning Vol. 1   

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Annotation: Kate, Michael, and Emma have passed from one orphanage to another in the ten years since their parents disappeared to protect them, but now they learn that they have special powers, a prophesied quest to find a magical book, and a fearsome enemy.
Catalog Number: #5423160
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition Date: 2012
Pages: 417 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-375-87271-X
ISBN 13: 978-0-375-87271-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2010029100
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Following their parents' disappearance, 14-year old Kate and her younger siblings, Emma and Michael, have grown up in a series of orphanages. After moving to the dismal town of Cambridge Falls, the trio discovers a mysterious book. When studious Michael tucks a historic photo into the book, the children are transported back to an earlier time in which the town is held captive by an evil witch. Prophecies, wizards, hidden treasures, an ancient evil, and tantrum-throwing dwarves all make an appearance as Stephens works in a multitude of fantasy tropes. The quest to save the town and its children is fast-paced and engaging, with plenty of action, humor, and secrets propelling the plot. The dialogue occasionally has a choppy flow, but the humor and sibling bickering are right on target. Themes of family and responsibility, while emphasized somewhat purposefully, will easily resonate with young readers. The start of a new series, this satisfying tale wraps up in an intriguing conclusion that dangles unresolved threads for future adventures. Prepare for heavy demand.
Horn Book
Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma discover a book that transports them back fifteen years in time. Thus begins their adventure with the Atlas, one of three Books of Beginning--powerful magical volumes whose secrets brought the universe to life. This imaginative and enjoyable series starter explores the bonds of family and magic while setting up an inevitable good-versus-evil showdown.
Kirkus Reviews
Since being inexplicably plucked from their parents' home, three children—Kate, Michael and Emma, who all ferociously resist the label "orphan"—have trickled through a long line of decent to atrocious orphanages. Their adventures truly begin when they're shipped to a crumbling mansion in a childless town somewhere near Lake Champlain. A mysterious book hidden in the home's dilapidated bowels whisks them to the same spot 15 years earlier, where a glamorous witch rules. The reason for the absence of children gruesomely reveals itself, and the trio determines to help with no initial clue to their own prophetic importance. That they have a larger role to play becomes clearer as they realize they have a special relationship with the magic book, the significance of which is revealed bit by bit. In this mystical world of Children with Destiny, readers might cringe at potential similarity to a certain young wizard, but this is entirely different. Each character has such a likable voice that the elaborate story doesn't feel overcomplicated, and though the third-person-omniscient narration focuses on Kate's thoughts, brief forays into the perspectives of her siblings hint that the next two books might focus on them. Supporting characters from a heroic Native American to some very funny dwarves further enliven things. The only gripe readers might initially have is with its length, but by the end, they'll immediately wish it was longer. (Fantasy. 10-14)
Publishers Weekly
This promising first volume in debut author Stephens's Books of Beginning trilogy concerns siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma, who, when very young, were taken from their parents to protect them from unspecified forces of darkness. They have since spent 10 years in a series of unpleasant orphanages; the last of these%E2%80%94which, oddly enough, houses no children but themselves%E2%80%94is run by the eccentric Dr. Pym. While exploring their palatial yet decrepit new home tucked away in the Adirondacks, the children discover a magical green book, which transports them into the recent past. There they do battle with a beautiful witch who has terrorized and enslaved the local people in her unsuccessful search for the very book the children possess. Adventures follow, featuring murderous zombielike Screechers, time travel paradoxes, and multiple revelations about Dr. Pym. If Stephens's characterizations sometimes dip into clich%C3%A9 (grumpy, Scottish-ish dwarves; noble/heroic natives; an effete evil assistant), few will mind. This fast-paced, fully imagined fantasy is by turns frightening and funny, and the siblings are well-crafted and empathetic heroes. Highly enjoyable, it should find many readers. Ages 8%E2%80%9312. (Apr.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 4&11;8&12; Kate, 14, 12-year-old Michael, and 11-year-old Emma have lived in 12 different orphanages during the decade since their parents' mysterious disappearance. Kate tries to care for her brother and sister as she promised her mother, but this gets harder when they are sent to a new orphanage directed by Dr. Stanislaus Pym and find that they are the only children in his remote mansion. When they explore the home, they discover a magical door that reveals a hidden study, where they find a magic book that allows them to travel through time. The action escalates as the girls try to rescue Michael, who is stranded in the past, and develops after the children learn the history of the Atlas and its connection to their lives. As they try to find the book in the past, they meet brash and humorous dwarves, a powerful warrior, and a younger Dr. Pym, as well as an evil witch who is also seeking the Atlas . Unfolding magic and secrets deepen the story and build excitement as it reaches its complex and time-bending climax. The siblings have a realistic and appealing relationship, including rivalry and bickering that hides their underlying deep loyalty to one another. Echoes of other popular fantasy series, from "Harry Potter" to the "Narnia" books, are easily found, but debut author Stephens has created a new and appealing read that will leave readers looking forward to the next volumes in this projected trilogy.&12; Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI
Word Count: 101,794
Reading Level: 4.9
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.9 / points: 15.0 / quiz: 143205 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.4 / points:24.0 / quiz:Q53297
Lexile: 720L
Guided Reading Level: W
Fountas & Pinnell: W
The hat in question was owned by Mrs. Constance Lovestock. Mrs. Lovestock was a woman of some years, even greater means, and no children. She was not a woman who did things by half measures. Take her position on swans. She thought them the most beautiful, graceful creatures in the world.

"So graceful," she said, "so elegant."

When one approached her large and sumptuous house on the outskirts of Baltimore, one saw shrubbery cut to look like swans. Statues of swans taking flight. Fountains where a mother swan spat water at baby swans. A birdbath in the shape of a swan where lesser birds could have the honor of bathing. And, of course, actual swans gliding across the ponds that encircled the house, and who sometimes waddling, not as gracefully as one might have hoped, past ground-floor windows.

"I do nothing," Mrs. Lovestock was proud of saying, "by half measure."

And so it was one night near the beginning of December, while sitting before the fire with her husband, Mr. Lovestock--who took a vacation by himself every summer supposedly to collect beetles, but actually to hunt swans at a private reserve in Florida, blasting them at near-point-blank range with a mad grin on his face--so it was that Mrs. Lovestock sat up on the swan-shaped couch where she had been knitting and announced, "Gerald, I am going to adopt some children."

Mr. Lovestock took the pipe from his mouth and made a thoughtful sound. He had heard clearly enough what she said. Not "a child." Rather "some children." But long years had taught him the futility of direct confrontation with his wife. He decided it wisest to give up some ground with a combination of ignorance and ?flattery.

"Why, my dear, that is a fabulous idea. You'd make a wonderful mother. Yes, let's do adopt a child."

Mrs. Lovestock tutted sharply. "Don't toy with me, Gerald. I have no intention of adopting just one child. It'd hardly be worth the effort. I think I shall begin with three." Then she stood, indicating the discussion was over, and strode out of the room.

Mr. Lovestock sighed, replacing the pipe in the corner of his mouth and wondering if there was a place he could go in the summer to hunt children.

Probably not, he thought, and went back to his paper.

*?*?*

"This is your last chance."

Kate sat across the desk from Miss Crumley. They were in her office in the north tower of the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans. The building had been an armory in centuries past, and in the winter, the wind blew through the walls, rattling the windows and freezing the water in the toilets. Miss Crumley's office was the only room that was heated. Kate hoped whatever she had to say would take a long time.

"I'm not joking, young lady." Miss Crumley was a short, lumpish woman with a mound of purplish hair, and as she spoke, she unwrapped a piece of candy from a bowl on her desk. The candy was off-limits to children. On their arrival at the Home, as Miss Crumley was explaining the list of dos and don'ts (mostly don'ts), Michael had helped himself to a peppermint. He'd had to take cold showers for a week afterward. "She hadn't said not to eat them," he complained. "How was I supposed to know?"

Miss Crumley popped the candy in her mouth. "After this, I'm done. Finished. If you and your brother and sister don't make yourselves as agreeable as possible so that this lady adopts you, well . . ." She sucked hard on her candy, searching for a suitably terrifying threat. ". . . Well, I just won't be responsible for what happens."

"Who is she?" Kate asked.

"Who is she?!" Miss Crumley repeated, her eyes widening in disbelief.

"I mean, what's she like?"

"Who is she? What's she like?" Miss Crumley sucked ?violently, her outrage rising. "This woman--" She stopped. Kate waited. But no words came. Instead, Miss Crumley's face turned bright red. She made a gagging sound.

For the briefest of seconds--well, perhaps more like three ?seconds--Kate considered watching Miss Crumley choke. Then she jumped up, ran around, and pounded her on the back.

A gooey greenish lump flew out of Miss Crumley's mouth and landed on the desk. She turned to Kate, breathing hard, her face still red. Kate knew better than to expect a thank-you.

"She is"--Miss Crumley gasped--"a woman interested in adopting three children. Preferably a family. That is all you need know! Who is she! The nerve! Go find your brother and sister. Have them washed and in their best clothes. The lady will be here in an hour. And if either one of them does anything, so help me . . ." She picked up the candy and popped it back in her mouth. ". . . Well, I just won't be responsible."



As Kate descended the narrow spiral stairs from Miss Crumley's office, the air grew colder, and she drew her thin sweater more tightly around herself. Adults seeing Kate for the first time always took note of what a remarkably pretty girl she was, with her dark blond hair and large hazel eyes. But if they looked closer, they saw the furrow of concentration that had taken up residence on her brow, the way her fingernails were bitten to the quick, the weary tension in her limbs, and rather than saying, "Oh, what a pretty girl," they would cluck and murmur, "The poor thing." For to look at Kate, pretty as she was, was to see someone who lived in constant anticipation of life's next blow.

Excerpted from The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

"A strong . . . new trilogy, invoking just a little Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events along the way."—Realms of Fantasy

Siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like lost baggage.
 
Yet these unwanted children are more remarkable than they could possibly imagine. Ripped from their parents as babies, they are being protected from a horrible evil of devastating power, an evil they know nothing about.
 
Until now.
 
Before long, Kate, Michael, and Emma are on a journey through time to dangerous and secret corners of the world . . . a journey of allies and enemies, of magic and mayhem. And—if an ancient prophesy is true—what they do can change history, and it's up to them to set things right.


"A new Narnia for the tween set."—The New York Times


"[A] fast-paced, fully imagined fantasy."—Publishers Weekly


"Echoes of other popular fantasy series, from "Harry Potter" to the "Narnia" books, are easily found, but debut author Stephens has created a new and appealing read . . ."—School Library Journal, Starred Review


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