Saturday, July 12, 2008
I guess I like fantasy after all
As a teacher with a love for reading, I have often encouraged students to explore different genres when I myself usually stick to my regimen of chick lit. When I do read books from my classroom library they often match the same genres that I thrived on when I was the age of my students. After one of my favorite chica lit authors recommended The Tree Shepherd's Daughter, I couldn't resist. It made me realize that I can enjoy fantasy after all. I guess I always did enjoy magic realism when studying Latin American literature.
This book, the first in the Faire Folk Trilogy, by Gillian Summers hooked me by having Keelie Heartwood as the main character. She is a Californian teen much like any other teenager in the YA books that I usually lean toward (probably because they are younger versions of adult chick lit counterparts). However, unlike the average teenager, Keelie is shocked to find out that she is half-elf, half-human after her mother dies and she moves in with her father.
While many books take place over the span of a year or more, this book appears to cover about a few weeks. It is jam packed with discoveries as Keelie comes to grips with who she really is and how drastically her life will change based on her realizations. She knows she will not be able to simply go back to her old life and forget everything.
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects to fantasy is that anything is possible. Because Keelie also has a human side there is a good balance between reality and fantasy. One minute she is dealing with an everyday teenage theme such as thinking about her current crush, while the next moment she is using her magical powers through her connection with trees. It was a perfect blend that always kept me flipping the pages to see just what would happen next.
I am still deciding whether or not to include this in my classroom library for 6th graders this year or if I should hold off until they are 8th graders. Keelie is a 15 year old and accordingly there are a couple scenes that make me think it is for readers a little closer to her age. However, there is one review on Amazon.com from a parent who homeschools her 7th grader and said that her daughter could not put it down. At the same time I am pretty sure that as a 6th grader I read plenty of books about high schoolers, so I may be a little too conservative.
Either way, I know that once I decide to include it in my classroom library, it will be a hit. I already have Into the Wildewood, and I can't wait to read it.
For those who decide to read the book, I found that Gillian Summers has a website with more details about the trilogy. Although it has not been updated since the release of the second book, there are interesting sections. For example, it was fun to see the map of the faire mentioned in the book. You can also read excerpts from the books there. I look forward to seeing updates to the site in the future.
Here's to exploring new genres!