Born this day in 1892, Tolkien is known all over the world for his works of fantasy. Whether you like his writing or not, there is no denying the genius of the man! You can find out about his life and works on the Tolkien Society website (http://www.tolkiensociety.org/) which also includes teaching ideas for his books! (http://www.tolkiensociety.org/education/teaching-tolkien/)
'Fantasy' is a huge genre of writing that encompasses many different styles and sub-genres. Here are some suggestions for children- but there are many, many others that I could have included!
Garth Nix (http://www.garthnix.com/)
Australian author, Garth Nix, is an amazing writer! I love his 'Old Kingdom' series, but for Primary aged children, his 'Keys to the Kingdom' and 'Seventh Tower' books are perfect. Both of these series give the real satisfaction of one long story which I find many 'series' lack!
Keys to the Kingdom: There are seven books in this series starting with 'Mr Monday' and ending with 'Lord Sunday'. Arthur Penhaligon is an asthmatic twelve year old boy who finds himself as the chosen Rightful Heir of the House. Given the Lesser half of the First Key, he finds his severe asthma relieved and he proceeds on a strange and thrilling series of adventures in which he ultimately needs to defeat the Morrow Days, the Trustees of the House.
Brilliant writing, plenty of adventure and loads of imagination make this series an intelligent and gripping read. No attempt at a synopsis will do these books justice- you just have to read them for yourself!
The Seventh Tower Series: This series contains six books which follow two children from very different backgrounds: Tal is one of the Chosen, living in the Castle and Milla is an Icecarl form the Ice. As an ancient evil returns to threaten their world, these two very different characters must work together to save it.
Strong characterisation and a very well-developed imaginary world make these books great reads. Tal and Milla come across as very real- and different- children and the relationship between them works perfectly! Fast paced stories which are full of detail and action, these are a great read!
Philip Reeve (http://www.philip-reeve.com/)
Mixing science-fiction and fantasy, 'Mortal Engines' is an amazing book. It is the first in a series of four novels (with three further 'prequels') about a futuristic age in which London is a giant machine- a Traction City- struggling to survive after the Sixty Minute War.
The first of these books- 'Mortal Engines'- is a great read for able upper primary children (the later ones are probably best for older children). Full of action, it offers a wonderfully imagined future society.
Lloyd Alexander was the American born author of 'The Chronicles of Prydain'. I was unfamiliar with his books until I saw the Disney film, 'The Black Cauldron' after which I read the whole series!
Prydain is based on ancient Wales and is a magical land at war with its neighbour, Annuvin, the Land of Death. The books follow the adventures of Taren as he and his companions strive to defeat Arawn, King of Annuvin. Great stories!
Just a few 'fantastic' suggestions to start the New Year! Any other suggestions?