Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning)
The Emerald Atlas (Books of Beginning) by John Stephens

The blurb:
A snowy winter's night. Three small children are chased from their home by the forces of a merciless darkness.  Ten years later, Kate, Michael, and Emma are no closer to the truth about what separated their family.

The answer lies with an enchanted atlas.

Brimming with action, humor, and emotion. The Emerald Atlas is the first stage of a journey that will take Kate, Michael and Emma to strange, dangerous lands and deep within themselves. It is the story of three children who set out to save their family, and end up having to save the world.

In The Emerald Atlas, the first book in his Books of Beginning trilogy, John Stephens introduces us to three young children, Kate, Michael and Emma.  They were mysteriously separated from their parents at a young age -- so young that only Kate has strong memories of what their parents were like.

The characters and atmosphere of The Emerald Atlas reminded me of older British children's novels, by E. Nesbit and C.S. Lewis's Narnia series.  Shunted from orphanage to orphanage until they find themselves taken in by Dr. Pym in a large house in a rural Cambridge Falls.  As they explore the home, fed all sorts of delicious food by a grumpy housekeeper, the children settle in quite well.  They discover a book gifted with magic of some sort.  As they decipher the book's powers and the strange mysteries of Cambridge Falls, they realize that they're in a world where magic exists and thrives.

The children find that in this place, Cambridge Falls, witches, dwarves, and all sorts of magical creatures exist.  And that through this magic book, they have the power to travel through time.  As the children discover the dark side of their magical world,  each  of them struggle to fight cruelty and evil and to help restore balance in their world.

The youngest child, Emma, is strong, brave, and spirited.  Her older brother Michael is bookish and protective in his own way, although he often seems like the weakest link.   For the eldest child, Kate,  the promise she made to her mother years ago is always strong in her mind and she is willing to accept great personal sacrifice to keep her family together.

The Emerald Atlas  is a captivating and magical novel, certain to appeal to children and adults of all ages. 

ISBN-10: 0375868704 - Hardcover $17.00
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (April 5, 2011), 342 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
John Stevens spent ten years working in television and was executive producer of Gossip Girl and a writer of Gilmore Girls and The O.C.   He holds an MFA from the University of Virginia.

John and his wife have a dog named Bug and sometimes live in Los Angeles.  Visit EmeraldAtlas.com to find out more about The Emerald Atlas, the Books of Beginning, and John.


  1. I can't wait to be able to read this with my daughter.. she is 9 now but I think her attention span is too short for the length of the book. But I hope I get to read it soon.

  2. I have a review copy here to read - so glad you liked it. I'm hoping to pass it on to my 10 year old granddaughter as soon as I finish it.

  3. what happened with there parents