Monthly Archives: January 2015
Posted by Sue
There are some fantasy books that all readers and writers of fantasy should read: for the story, for the writing sample. Looking back at my past posts on classic fantasy fiction I’ve noticed something. All my suggestions are for middle grade/young adult fantasy books. Since that’s the kind of fiction I enjoy writing, that must be why I enjoy reading it most, also.
One classic fantasy book to read is Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, which was written by Robert O’Brien back in 1971. It was a Newbery award winner. (After O’Brien’s death, his daughter wrote two more books about the rats of NIMH.) This is the story of a brave, widowed field mouse who becomes involved with an escaped colony of laboratory enhanced rats. Like people, not all the rats are good. The absorbing and often harrowing fantasy offers a choice between good and evil, technology and the rhythms of nature. There was a movie made from Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. Watch it if you wish, but remember that movies are never as good as the books from which they are made.
Another children’s fantasy classic is The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall, 1987, which was a Newbery honor winner. The Minnipins (groups of small people living in a river valley) are having a contest to see which village shows the Minnipin character best. Each village is determined to “put their best foot forward” and elders set forth new rules for the villagers to show themselves in the best light to the contest judges. I remember that when I first read this book, I was struck by the emphasis on comformity by the majority in the village where our main characters live. When five Minnipins refuse to conform to the new edicts, they are exiled from the village. In their sojurn in the mountains, they discover that an ancient enemy is preparing to attack. When the elders of the village refuse to listen to their warnings, the exiles courageously decide to save the village themselves. I haven’t seen this book around for a while, but for fantasy lovers, it is well worth a read. Carol Kendall also wrote a sequel, which is even less well known, but is also good book to read: The Whisper of Glocken, A Novel of the Minnipins. Both books are available on Amazon.