After Harry Potter, what will you read?

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 3, 2007

By Marissa Creamer
Rowan Public Library
Well, the Harry Potter saga has finally come to an end. By now, most fans of the popular children’s series have probably devoured the seventh and final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
Whether or not you are a fan, it is hard to ignore the impact of this fantasy series by British author J.K. Rowling. Undeniably popular with youth, Harry Potter has also been embraced by adults, competing in sales with adult books. In fact, the first three Harry Potter books so dominated the New York Times fiction bestseller list that in 2000 a separate list for children’s bestsellers was created.
The Harry Potter phenomenon has shown adults that juvenile and young adult literature can be worthwhile reading. More adults have come to realize what I have known for some time: some of the smartest and most entertaining books available are written for children and teens. Other recent books written for young people that can also be enjoyed by adults include:
– “Framed,” by Cottrell Boyce. The newest novel by the author of “Millions” combines threads of Italian Renaissance art and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles into a message about the power of art to inspire and transform. It begins when flooding in London causes the contents of the National Gallery to be brought to the sleepy Welsh town of Manod for safekeeping in an abandoned slate quarry (an incident based on a real art evacuation that took place during World War II). The caretaker of the artworks mistakenly believes that Dylan has an interest in Renaissance art when he hears the names of Dylan’s pet chickens: Michelangelo and Donatello, not realizing they are actually named for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
While Dylan (and eventually the entire town) is invited to experience the masterpieces, Dylan’s younger sister plans a heist involving replacing Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” with a paint-by-numbers copy. One by one, the quirky citizens of Manod find their lives quietly transformed by the presence of the paintings.
– “The Invention of Hugo Cabret: a Novel in Words and Pictures,” by Brian Selznick. Don’t be intimidated by the massive size of this novel; much of the story is told in illustrations. This unique story combines text, sequential art, and period photographs into an engrossing mystery set in 1930s Paris. It tells the story of an orphan boy and his quest to repair a salvaged clockwork automaton in hopes that it will deliver a message from his deceased father. Little does he realize that the cantankerous toyshop owner he encounters also has a connection to the automaton. Fans of film history will appreciate this homage to early filmmakers and the celebrated filmmaker Georges Melies.
– “Un Lun Dun,” by China Mieville, is being marketed as a young adult title, but adult fantasy fans will be sure to enjoy this magical tale set in a sort of “London through the looking glass.” Ghosts, walking bushes and sentient umbrellas inhabit this alternate world where all the lost and broken objects of London accumulate, and houses are built of obsolete technology. When sentient smog threatens the inhabitants of Un Lun Dun, a young hero is prophesied to save the city. It appears that Zanna is the chosen one, but then things begin to go horribly wrong …
Well-known authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, James Patterson and Carl Hiaasen have released books for teens in recent years, bringing some of their loyal fans into the young adult reading world. So don’t be put off by a book labeled “juvenile” or “young adult.” All that’s really important is the story. You can find all of these tales at Rowan Public Library.
Summer films: Every Tuesday, 7 p.m. at headquarters. August will be foreign films. Popcorn and drinks served.
Displays: Kizziah photos ó see a display and photos taken by gifted Spencer photographer Bill Kizziah. Headquarters ó paintings by Carol Dunkley and display by Symphony Guild. East ó all you need to know about stamping by Glenda Trexler. South ó jewelry by Ester Sims.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
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