Customer Reviews for

The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning Series #1)

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

31 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

Waiting impatiently for the next books!

One Christmas Eve, Kate is shaken awake by her mother. Kate, the oldest of three children, is implored by her mother to look after the younger two, Michael and Emma. The three children are spirited away in the middle of the night to keep them safe. For the next ten y...
One Christmas Eve, Kate is shaken awake by her mother. Kate, the oldest of three children, is implored by her mother to look after the younger two, Michael and Emma. The three children are spirited away in the middle of the night to keep them safe. For the next ten years, these siblings will find themselves shuffled from foster home to foster home, until one disastrous meeting with a potential adoptive parent lands them in the "orphanage" of Dr. Stanislaus Pym. It is a strange sort of orphanage, made so because of the enigmatic owner of the house, Dr. Pym, the old caretaker, Abraham, and the housekeeper who insists on speaking to the children in address of royalty, Miss Sallow. Oh, and the fact that Kate, Michael, and Emma are the only children in the orphanage.

Upon their first investigation of the house, the children find a book bound in green leather. Purely by accident, they stick a picture in the book and are transported back in time. It is here they meet the Countess, an evil witch in search of the book that the children themselves have found. When they try to get back to their time, Michael is left behind. The girls then return to find Michael, sending them on the adventure of a lifetime. The children seems to be on one adventure after another trying to right the wrongs of the past.

When I first started this book, I was not sure if I would finish it. The Emerald Atlas contains characters reminiscent of Harry Potter's Albus Dumbledore and Rubius Hagrid, a story line about children entering another time (world) in order to save it as in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and a seemingly never-ending abundance of dismal situations a la A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was concerned that John Stephens would not find his own voice.

I am glad I kept reading. While the aforementioned nods to other great children's literature do exist, Stephens begins to weave his own tale. The characters are ones for whom you can champion. I am a major fan of books that incorporate strong female characters, and Stephens does this twice with both Kate and Emma. He also manages to do so while keeping in consideration the fact that they are still children.

As with any book, I rate it based on its repeat readability (yep, making up words now). Stephens gets a solid yes. Stephens' novel is great for young readers, rich in folklore and vivid imagery. I am looking forward to the next two books in this trilogy, even knowing I will have to wait quite some time (as Atlas is not slated for release until April 2011).


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

posted by irishbookworm21 on November 21, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

Tale of Twists and Turns

Kate, Michael and Emma are orphaned, after a mysterious night when their parents send them away and disappear. Kate is the only one with any sort of memory of their life with their mother and father. As the children grow, they are bounced around through various orphanag...
Kate, Michael and Emma are orphaned, after a mysterious night when their parents send them away and disappear. Kate is the only one with any sort of memory of their life with their mother and father. As the children grow, they are bounced around through various orphanages, until landing at the strange house of Dr. Stanislaus Pym. While exploring one night, the three stumble upon an old book hidden deep within the basement. They quickly learn this book is very powerful. As the children set off on an adventure to discover more of the book, they will meet evil witches, angry dwarves, and the most terrifying creatures - Screechers!

The Emerald Atlas was exactly what I expected it to be: a fun adventure, if not a little tedious at times. John Stephens' vision of the magical book is well-executed, though I personally wanted to do more traveling through it. Kate is by far the most interesting character, as she seems to be the one holding all of the powers. But Emma is also oh-so-adorable, and extremely courageous. Some characters are silly and overdone, but this is a good thing, especially in the mean old Miss Sallow. A few scenes are chuckle-out-loud funny, thanks in part to Stephens' exceptional dialog between the children. As an exciting tale with twists and danger at every turn, I think this new series will appeal more to fans of Fablehaven over those of Harry Potter.

posted by ChelseaW on March 18, 2011

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  • Posted July 24, 2011

    Book needs a strong editor

    Orphans, prophecy, fairy tale characters, time travel. Only thing missing was the wicked stepmother--good thing there was a wicked witch! Three kids (not Harry, Hermione, nor Ron) with special powers must combine forces to fullfill a prophecy to overcome a powerful evil wizard. They are assisted by a kindly and powerful good wizard. Does this sound familiar? The story suffers from too much ambition. Too many characters, too many story lines, too many voices/points of view. I think there is a good book buried somewhere amongst all of the clutter, but it requires an editor with a strong pen. Oh, the time travel--very confusing trying to follow. Final death knoll is that I really did not care what happened to the kids so I will not be reading the next 2. Rats, I really wanted to like this. Recommendation? Try Peter and the Starcatchers series.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2013

    Swsg

    What do u meanm over

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 19, 2012

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    Posted June 18, 2012

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    Posted August 18, 2012

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    Posted June 18, 2011

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