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HOOKED ON BOOKS: Some books can inspire small heroes

These books encourage children to imagine themselves doing great things.

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Oxford University Press, 2004; Greenwillow Books, 2012; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2014
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One of the charming themes that runs through kids’ fiction is the idea that no problem is too big for a small hero.

All the way back to fairy tales and folklore, this storytelling tradition encourages children to imagine themselves doing great things. This may partly explain how, generation after generation, people of all ages have found the courage and strength to survive awful experiences and overcome huge challenges. The imagination is where heroes are born.

Here are some books in which growing people take on full-size adventures. May they inspire today’s young readers to see the hero in themselves.

  • In P.D. Baccalario’s “Ring of Fire,” four children from diverse backgrounds are chosen to guard an ancient ring of power. Their adventures begin when a strange man hands them a suitcase full of clues just before being killed. 
  • Henry Clark’s “What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World” starts with three middle schoolers waiting for a school bus, and ends in a race to stop an invasion from an inside-out world.
  • Charlie Fletcher’s “Stoneheart” begins when a grumpy George takes his temper out on a gargoyle. Next thing, George is being chased by stone creatures, caught up in a war between human and non-human statues.
  • In Catherine Jinks’s “How to Catch a Bogle,” missing children have often been eaten by monsters, called bogles, that haunt chimneys and sewers. Birdie, an apprentice to a bogle catcher, uses her sweet voice to lure them onto the tip of his spear.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones’s “Aunt Maria,” Mig finds herself increasingly alone with a bossy old lady who specializes in turning inconvenient people into slaves, zombies or animals. Despite her vulnerability, only Mig can stop Aunt Maria’s wickedness.
  • Matthew J. Kirby’s “The Clockwork Three” brings three children together in an adventure that combines a clockwork man, a mysterious green violin with a bewitching tone and a treasure hidden in a hotel, all in an atmospheric American city.
  • A.J. Lake’s “The Coming of Dragons” begins with a boy and a girl surviving a shipwreck, each of them with a magical gift that puts them both in danger. It’s a fast-paced, scary adventure set in an era of magic and legend older than King Arthur.
  • In Garth Nix and Sean Williams’s “Troubletwisters,” twins Jaide and Jack have just started learning about their responsibility as Wardens to keep an evil force out of the world. When their Grandma gets hurt, they must face a disturbing threat by themselves.
  • Ian Ogilvy’s “Measle and the Wrathmonk” features a skinny orphan who proves surprisingly brave and clever when an insane sorcerer shrinks him to toy-size and imprisons him in a model railway. It’s a heartwarmingly goofy tale.
  • In Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet,” 13-year-old Brian finds out how tough he really is when the pilot of a two-seater airplane dies of a heart attack beside him, 70,000 feet above a Canadian wilderness. His 54-day ordeal proves him to be a survival machine.
  • Terry Pratchett’s “The Wee Free Men” is the tale of a 9-year-old witch named Tiffany, who plunges into a horrible fairyland to save her baby brother, armed with first sight, second thoughts, a frying pan, and a clan of tiny, tattooed, kilt-wearing warriors.
  • Adam Rex’s “The True Meaning of Smekday” inspired the animated movie “Home.” In it, Tip and her cat flee an alien invasion, joined by a misfit Boov named J.Lo. Before they can reunite with Tip’s mom, they must save both humanity and the Boov.
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Related Topics: BOOKS
Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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