The Emerald Atlas

The Emerald Atlas

Book rating: 05 Hardback Books of Beginning

By (author) John Stephens

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  • Publisher: Random House Inc
  • Format: Hardback | 432 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 208mm x 38mm | 612g
  • Publication date: 5 April 2011
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0375868704
  • ISBN 13: 9780375868702
  • Sales rank: 213,394

Product description

Called "A new Narnia for the tween set" by the "New York Times" and perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials series, "The Emerald Atlas" brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world. These three siblings 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 correct--what they do can change history, and it is up to them to set things right.

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Author information

JOHN STEPHENS is also the author of The Fire Chronicle, the second installment in the Books of Beginning trilogy. John received his MFA from the University of Virginia, and went on to write and produce television for ten years. During this time, he read His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and fell in love with fantasy for young readers. He spent the next several years waking at 4 AM every morning to write The Emerald Atlas before heading to work for the day. John lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son and their dog, Bug. Visit to find out more about The Emerald Atlas, the Books of Beginning, and John.

Customer reviews

By Julie Smith 12 Apr 2011 5

On Christmas Eve, Kate, who is four years old, is woken from sleep by her mother, who asks her to keep her brother and sister, Michael and Emma, safe. A tall man takes the children away from their parents, and they spend the next 10 years at 12 different orphanages, the last being the Edgar Allan Poe Home for Hopeless and Incorrigible Orphans, each worse than the last.

By this time, Kate has come to anticipate the worst, and always looks like she's anticipating blows. Michael is obsessed with stories of magical creatures, and Emma, the youngest, has a fearful temper.

Their last stop is with Dr. Stanislaus Pym, the new orphanage director at Cambridge Falls, a childless town where most of the homes are dark and the people walk with their heads down. Interestingly, they are the only children at the orphanage, and when they are exploring the basement, a door mysteriously appears that leads to a lab or a study that seems to shift now and then when they are inside.

They discover an old green book with blank pages, and when Michael places an old photograph of Cambridge Falls on a page, they are transported back 15 years ago to a Cambridge Falls that still has children in it, but also has Screechers, dead creatures possessed solely by hatred for every living thing. The Screechers work for a witch called The Countess, and she has captured all of the children as hostages to force their fathers to search for "something" in the surrounding caves.

This is a wickedly entertaining story, with witches, warlocks, dwarves, and the magic of one of the three Books of Beginning - the Emerald Atlas. As the children embark on their misadventures, the situations they find themselves in and the characters and dangers they encounter will keep you turning pages. The characters are irresistible, and the humor coupled with fantasy and adventure makes this a must-read for MG fans. If you liked Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, you will love this book as well.

I, for one, can't wait for the next books in the trilogy. Harry Potter fandom, anyone?

QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy):

"I've told the head of your new orphanage - Dr. Pym, I think his name was, yes, Dr. Stanislaus Pym - that you would all probably grow up to be criminals and murderers, and he said that was exactly the type he was looking for."

"He's a bit too proud of his whiskers, but he's a handsome beast for all that. We'll have an affair shortly, though it won't end well." She frowned theatrically. "Alexei will insist on bragging about it at his club, and I'll have no choice but to slaughter him and his entire family."

"Fair enough; it's your necks. Just don't like seeing children chopped into bits and pieces when it can be avoided. Old-fashioned, I guess."

She would free Michael from his cage (she wasn't sure how yet), the two of them would get Kate away from the Secretary (she wasn't sure how she'd accomplish that either, but it would probably involve her being incredibly brave while Michael scribbled some nonsense in his notebook) . . .

Review quote

Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2011: "Unfolding magic and secrets deepen the story and build excitement as it reaches its complex and time-bending climax....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."" "Publishers Weekly, January 18, 2011: "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." The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2011: "[A] great story is all in the telling, and in 'The Emerald Atlas' the telling is superb...First-time novelist John Stephens has created a vicarious adventure for children ages 9-15--the first in a trilogy--filled with unexpected twists and marvelously distinct and vivid characters."