Saturday, March 21, 2009

Children’s Books: Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson

It seems entirely possible to me that N.D. Wilson could be The Next Big Thing in children’s literature. Now, keep in mind that we’re talking about a position that has never been more coveted, but certainly Wilson’s 100 Cupboards saga -- of which Dandelion Fire (Random House) is book two -- holds up with the best of Rowling, Pullman and company in that it offers transformation of both spirit and fictional reality. That is to say, there is magic in the world Wilson has created. But Wilson’s prose is pretty magic, as well. By way of example, here are the lines that open Dandelion Fire:
Kansas is not easily impressed. It has seen houses fly and cattle soar. When funnel clouds walk through the wheat, big hail falls behind. As the biggest stones melt, turtles and mice and fish and even men can be seen frozen inside. And Kansas is not surprised.
These simple words manage to convey both the magic and the depth of story that Wilson has waiting for us. And the magic is of the most exciting kind: on a visit to his aunt and uncle’s Kansas farm, while poking around in the attic, Henry York found 100 cupboard doors behind a sheet of plaster in the attic wall. The cupboards prove to be portals to another world. Hijinks ensue.

Avid readers aged eight to 12 who like a good, meaty read with lots of surprises, well-made characters and beautifully crafted prose should not be able to put Dandelion Fire down.


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