The Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi - Reading My Kid's Recommendations

One of the many things I looked forward to after having kids, was having them discover my favorite books. We've been in that territory for awhile with my son, and he's been subjected to so much Beverly Cleary, E.B. White, C.S. Lewis and of course, J.K. Rowling. Up until recently, there have not been books that he's discovered on his own that piqued my interest. I've read recent middle grade books on my own and then recommended them to him (like The One and Only Ivan or Wonder), but not ones HE has sought out on his own like those godforsaken Captain Underpants Series (of which I have no real desire to read). However, when we started amassing the Amulet Series in our house, I was definitely compelled and SO GLAD I sat down to read them all. 

The Amulet novels follow the adventures of Emily Hayes, who discovers the alternate world Alledia in the attic of her great-grandfather's home where she and her mother and brother move to after her father dies in a car accident. Along the way, she gains a ragtag bunch of allies who help her in her quest to discover her power, defeat her foes and to get back home to Earth.

At first, I was a little disappointed that there needed to be a horrible Disney-esque killing off of a parent right at the beginning to drive the main character's motivation. And the event that drags Emily and her brother Navin into the world of Alledia, is their mother's kidnapping by a rather disgusting tentacled beast. Yet the story, world building, and breathtaking illustrations completely make up for this one quibble. It's a wonderful tale of good vs evil and that things are not always what they seem. There are familiar elements of classic fantasy: curses, chosen ones, wise men, masters and apprentices that are comforting, as well as clever plot twists. I also love that the protagonist taking the lead is a girl and in many ways it reminds me of my absolute favorite book from when I was about my son's age: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle - wherein a young Meg Murray is on a quest with her younger brother to save their father and lots of crazy, otherworldly things transpire. I even have an autographed copy!
Now I'm thinking that I need to buy A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel version... Re-imagining classics as graphic novels seems to be all the rage these days. Yes, I succumbed and bought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition  and plan to get The Chamber of Secrets Illustrated EditionReading a graphic novel is a completely new experience for me and so very enjoyable. It adds such an intimate way of seeing a character's emotions or the setting of a scene. I wonder if I am being spoiled with Kibuishi's beautiful imagination and illustrations. I love the two page spreads whenever the characters happen upon a new magical place:
On one hand, I'm so glad that my son discovered these books and we will continue to enjoy them together. On the other hand, we will still read Harry Potter books, A Wrinkle in Time, etc. in the original format and THEN the graphic novels as an added bonus. I do think there is something to be said for leaving things to the imagination first. But books that are original graphic novels have a place in my heart now, too. He's asked about reading Smile, so we may give that a go. Recently, though, he gobbled up The Spiderwick Chronicles, so I think I'll get to reading that next!


  1. Thanks for these suggestions. My 2nd grade daughter is reading on a 4th or 5th grade level and we are having a tough time finding books at her level that sustain her attention and are age appropriate. Her dad started reading Wrinkle in Time with her, but it didn't catch her. But I have high hopes for Amulet and The Spiderwick Chronicles.

    1. Oh I hope they work out! I have a few friends with daughters in a similar situation (I can already see my girl on this path, too) and they recommend Ivy and Bean, or anything by Raina Telgemeier (Smile, etc.)

    2. She devoured Ivy and Bean! I looked into Smile for her but might hold off. I got Amulet and Spiderwick at the library today.