Children's Fantasy Book Review
Children's fantasy has always been a strength of the genre and today it is fortunate to play host to the world's most gifted storytellers. Classics include The Wind in the Willows, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And in recent times Harry Potter, The Edge Chronicles, The Bartimaeus Trilogy and the Spook's series have ensured that children have some wonderful books to fire their imagination.
- Our top 10 children's books
- Our top 10 books for toddlers and younger children
- More recommended reading
- Highest rated trilogies/series
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Please find below 10 titles that we highly recommend with this sub-genre.
- 1. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
First published in 1937, The Hobbit is one of the few real classics of English children's literature. A story to stand beside Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows and Watership Down. And while the book recently voted the most popular of the 20th Century might need no introduction, The Hobbit nevertheless is one to The Lord of the Rings, for that novel is the epic sequel to this, smaller, simpler, but no less enjoyable tale. Here are the first steps where "roads go ever ever on", until one day we come to journey's end, changed forever by JRR Tolkien's enchanted way with words. Really, every child, of every age, should own one.
"A flawless masterpiece ... One of the most influential books of our generation." The Times
"The Hobbit is quite simply a must read, a real delight." Fantasy Book Review
- 2. Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives in a cupboard under the stairs at his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's house, which he thinks is normal for someone like him who's parents have been killed in a 'car crash'. He is bullied by them and his fat, spoilt cousin Dudley, and lives a very unremarkable life with only the odd hiccup (like his hair growing back overnight!) to cause him much to think about. That is until an owl turns up with a letter addressed to Harry and all hell breaks loose! He is literally rescued by a world where nothing is as it seems and magic lessons are the order of the day. Read and find out how Harry discovers his true heritage at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft, the reason behind his parents mysterious death, who is out to kill him, and how he uncovers the most amazing secret of all time, the fabled Philosopher's Stone! All this and muggles too. Now, what are they?
"JK Rowling's tales of the boy wizard have become a phenomenon. The series has so far sold a staggering 400,000,000 copies worldwide and has been translated into over sixty-five different languages. There will always be debate over how good an author Rowling is but few can deny that she deserves the utmost acclaim for bringing the joy of reading to a new generation." Fantasy Book Review
- 3. The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell are the creators of the hugely successful Edge Chronicles, which have sold over two million copies and have been translated into over thirty languages worldwide.
"A richly inventive fantasy . . . one of the most exciting collaborations between a writer and illustrator for a long time." The Literary Review
"One of the most original fantasy series available today. So don your crushed funnel hat, comb your neck beard, lick your eyes and prepare yourself for the experience of a lifetime." Fantasy Book Review
- 4. The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle
This is the story of the last unicorn on earth. She has lived contentedly alone for hundreds of years, and would have continued to do so, believing that there were others of her kind somewhere in the world, had she not heard a huntsman say that she was the last of her kind. Afterwards she could have no peace of mind until she left the safety of the enchanted wood and searched for another unicorn. Once she leaves the wood she is exposed to the covetous gaze of men and there is danger at every turn.
"The plot is a classic quest structure-an impossible goal, a motley company, heroes, villains, monsters, magic, desperate chances, bittersweet success. The last unicorn in the world sets out from her enchanted wood to discover the fate of her kin In the process she becomes, briefly and agonizingly, human What makes The Last Unicorn unique is the way Mr. Beagle transcends the ordinary fantasy quest trope with his incomparable storytelling skill. The book is a triumph The writing is as precise and beautiful as mosaic tiles, as coloured glass backed by gold, sharp and glittering. Part of the wonder is the effortless way Mr. Beagle combines fairy-tale imagery with matter-of-fact modernity. He slides easily from a heroic fantasy to laugh-out-loud funny: a sorcerer confronts an enemy with demons, metamorphoses, paralysing ailments and secret judo holds; a prince rides home singing in harmony with the severed ogres head lashed to his saddle. The story has an intimacy and immediacy that captivates the reader. You dont read this with the futile wish that such things would happen to you-you read it and believe, at once, that they could." The Green Man Review
- 5. Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud
Listen then, and I'll tell you again of the Battle of the Rock. But none of your usual wriggling, or I'll stop before I've begun . . .
Halli loves the old stories from when the valley was a wild and dangerous place - when the twelve legendary heroes stood together to defeat the ancient enemy, the bloodthirsty Trows.
Halli longs for adventure but these days the most dangerous thing in the valley is boredom. He tries to liven things up by playing practical jokes. But when one of his jokes goes too far, he reawakens an old blood feud and finds himself on a hero's quest after all. Along the way he meets a ruthless thief, a murderous rival, and a girl who may just be as fearless as he is . . .
"Written out of a deeply felt world, and with a taut, disciplined voice that knows its Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as well as its Harry Potter, Jonathan Stroud's new book is, quite simply, stunning." The Guardian
"It has been quite a long time since I have enjoyed a book this much. Although this may be my first encounter with Stroud's work it will certainly not be the last. An enthralling tale told by a master storyteller." Fantasy Book Review
- 6. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is as much loved today as it has ever been and the advent of the ebook has led to the book being free to those who able to read them. First published in 1900 when it became an international bestseller it is a relevant today as it was then. Amongst the most-read and most-influential children's books of all time. And you can read it for free.
- 7. The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney
Thomas Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son and has been apprenticed to the local Spook. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts.
But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins...
"Chilling, memorable, full of wonderful characters and written in a fluid style that makes the narrative accessible to all ages." Fantasy Book Review
- 8. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland was Lewis Carrolls first novel and its fantasy plot, humorous rhymes and brilliant use of nonsense was revolutionary. Nineteenth-century childrens writing usually served moral or educational purpose, but Alice was written firmly and purely for the amusement of children. Critical response was lukewarm, but the book was still a great success, and remains a hugely influential classic of childrens literature.
- 9. The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt
I'm loathe to give any more of the plot or characters away because, honestly, I dont want to spoil it for you and although there is a diamond, which plays a very important part to the story, the real gem here is de Quidts writing.
- 10. Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth by Chris Priestley
A boy is put on a train by his stepmother to make his first journey on his own. But soon that journey turns out to be more of a challenge than anyone could have imagined as the train stalls at the mouth of a tunnel and a mysterious woman in white helps the boy while away the hours by telling him stories - stories with a difference.
- 1. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
The Gruffalo certainly lives up to its reputation as a classic read for both children and parents. The fantasy story captures the imagination of pre-schoolers as it takes them on a journey with mouse as he strolls through the wood and meets the beast himself, the Gruffalo. As the mouse revisits inhabitants of the wood with the Gruffalo, the mouse successfully convinces the beast that he, the mouse, is the scariest creature in the wood.
- 2. The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson
If youve ever read a book that you dont want to end then The Gruffalo is perhaps a childs equivalent luckily Julia Donaldson continues to keep little minds satisfied with The Gruffalos Child
- 3. Stick Man by Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson yet again produces a winning formula with The Stick Man. Taking an everyday object of a stick, the author gives it an identity and creates the Stick Man and his instantly loveable family of his stick lady love and his stick children three. The story follows the life of Stick Man as he is torn away from his family and depicted dealing with everyday situations for a stick - he gets thrown to a dog, becomes a pooh stick and forms part of a birds nest to name but a few. Just as it looks as though Stick Mans days are numbered, as he is placed on a fireplace, he is rescued by every childs hero, Santa, who helps him find his way back home.
- 4. Come To Tea On Planet Zum Zee by Tony Mitton
With its vibrant front cover and fantastically entitled book, Come to Tea on Planet Zum-Zee oozes appeal to kids. Written by Tony Mitton, his unique writing style captures the imaginations of pre-schoolers and school children exploring the world of outer space.
- 5. Lost And Found by Oliver Jeffers
Originality in story telling doesnt get much better than Oliver Jeffers. Lost and Found is a simple tale about a boy and a penguin and their growing friendship.
- 6. Time To Wash Faces! by Andrew Davenport
This board book one again contains bold, bright, photographic illustrations of favourite characters from the television series and a simple and fun story. The story centres on the character of Makka Pakka, whom children will know loves to travel around the garden with his sponge and soap keeping the garden and his friends clean and tidy. Makka Pakka greets and washes the faces of several different characters before the story ends with the familiar phrase Isnt that a pip!.
- 7. How To Catch A Star by Oliver Jeffers
Oliver Jeffers made a name for himself in childrens books with this title and its not hard to see why when you turn the pages. Jeffers uses the simple relationship of a boy and his fascination with stars and turns it into a page turning story. How to Catch A Star tells the tale of the boy as he goes on a quest to catch a star of his very own exploring the boys plots to seize his star ranging from using a lifebelt as a lasso to jumping up and grabbing it. The detail Jeffers goes into in the boys quest to get his prize is reminiscent of any child who longs to fulfil their dream theyll try anything to succeed.
- 8. Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson
This story begins as a young boy, Charlie Cook, sits down to read his favourite book which is about a leaky pirate ship which very nearly sank.., the story then jumps into this story about the pirate he is also reading a book About a girl called Goldilocks and three indignant bears it then jumps into this story, and so it goes on. The book follows each character reading a book which is featured in a double page. Each is a mini adventure for a child as there are more stories and characters to discover with every turn of the page. Finally the story ends up back with Charlie Cook and his favourite book with each of the characters from the other tales stood reading with him. This unique approach really works (honest!) and children seem to get in tune with it quickly.
- 9. The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery
The Little Prince is a classic tale of equal appeal to children and adults. On one level it is the story of an airman's discovery, in the desert, of a small boy from another planet - the Little Prince of the title - and his stories of intergalactic travel, while on the other hand it is a thought-provoking allegory of the human condition. First published in 1943, the year before the author's death in action, this translation contains Saint-Exupery's delightful illustrations.
- 10. All Aboard The Ninky Nonk! by Andrew Davenport
All Aboard the Ninky Nonk is book one in a series of six books aimed at the 0-2 years market that are based on episodes of the childrens television series In The Night Garden also written by Andrew Davenport.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum
- The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney
- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- The Feathered Man by Jeremy de Quidt
- Tales of Terror from the Tunnel’s Mouth by Chris Priestley
- Harry Potter by JK Rowling
- The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
- The Wardstone Chronicles by Joseph Delaney
- The Dragonsdome Chronicles by Lucinda Hare
- The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black
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