NOW, WHAT CAN YOU POSSIBLY
READ AFTER HARRY POTTER?
Are you suffering from Wizard withdrawal, and mourning
for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows cast
since you read the last page of the last book of that fantastic
series? You are beginning to realize that J. K. Rowling
is not going to write another one? Well fret not...fantasy
is alive and well. New friends and magical worlds await
you in a vast multitude of books that you haven't read.
Here are some suggestions...all of these books are still
in print, and available to purchase, or to check out at
your local library.
is the first book of 18 in the Redwall series. Brian Jacques
takes your imagination to new levels in this wonderful series
about talking animals that populate the abbey. The series
skips around chronologically, visiting the past and the
future. Once you get started on this series, you may want
to read all of them.
Fowl by Eoin Colfer is the first book in a five
part series and is about a 12-year old criminal mastermind
who sets out to kidnap a fairy and hold her for a pot-of-gold
ransom. Colfer calls this book " 'Die Hard' with fairies."
This exciting series will step-up your imagination and the
coded messages at the bottom of each page will raise the
level of mystery and fun.
Dark Materials Trilogy - The Golden Compass, the
Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass by Philip
Pullman introduces us to 11-year old Lyra, the heroine
who lives in Oxford, England in a world that has similarities
to our own, except that in Lyra's world, everyone has
a daemon, a living manifestation of their soul. Children
die in this dark series, and Pullman is not a fan of organized
religion, but exciting and fun to read.
And of course, there is the incomparable
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis that is
laced with Biblical ideals. You have seen the movies...now
read the innovative books.
Lloyd Alexander won a Newbery Award for The
High King, his final book of a five-part series,
The Chronicles of Prydain. In this series, we follow
Taran, assistant pig keeper, from unformed boy to courageous
young man. Set in the mythical land of Prydain, Taran yearns
to go into battle like his hero, Prince Gwydion. Before
the story is over, he has met his hero and fought the evil
leader who threatens the peace of Prydain. Intoxicating
stuff for fantasy lovers.
Stones of Abraxas by K. Osborn Sullivan features
an evil magician and the fight over the magic gem-stones
that make up The Stones of Abraxas...five gems having magical
powers and held together by a golden shield; a medieval-like
world in a riveting fantasy that is populated with compelling,
Call to Shakabaz by Amy Wachspress features African-American
children that act and speak like contemporary urban children,
but they travel to mystical foreign lands, encounter talking
animals and magical powers, and deal with a conflict between
forces of good and evil on an exciting hero's journey.
I can't forget to mention J.R.R.
Tolkien's The Hobbit and The
Lord of The Rings. If your introduction to fantasy
was the Harry Potter series, you absolutely must get your
hands on Tolkien's works. In the Hobbit we meet
Bilbo Baggins and then The Lord of the Rings tells
of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship
of the Ring: Middle Earth and the characters we meet
in these classics simply set the standard for fantasy fiction.
Connie Lee Berry is writing a series of adventure/mystery
books for kids nine to twelve years old titled Incredible
Journey Books. I just finished reading the first two,
and two more will be published in October. They are exciting
and funny and will leave kids wanting more. Connie agreed to
answer some of my questions.
Bev: I didn't see anything about you on the
Incredible Journey Books web site. Tell us a little about
Connie: My life is pretty ordinary actually. I grew
up in a small town in Kentucky. After college, I became a flight
attendant for a major airline. Having never traveled as a child,
I was anxious to see the world. After a few years of working
for the airline, I got married and became a mother of three.
When my oldest son went to kindergarten, I became very active
in his school, doing countless kids' projects and becoming room
mom. During this time, I realized how much I enjoyed doing creative
projects and being around kids. For about five years, I volunteered
heavily at my children's schools, even automating a school library
at one point. It was during this five years that I started writing.
The idea for the Incredible Journey Books stemmed from a combination
of my experiences in my adult life, traveling the world and
doing creative kids' projects.
Bev: How long have you been writing?
Connie: I've been writing children's books for about
four years now; however, I've been doing other creative projects,
such as writing poems and creating things, since I was little.
I've always had a love for creating. I think you use a lot of
the same skills writing books as you do with other creative
endeavors. All require imagination and a passion for what you're
Bev: Tell us about your road to publication.
Connie: Initially, I didn't set out to become a children's
book author. I wrote the first book to inspire my oldest son
to write. But once I started writing...I got hooked. And by
the time I pursued getting the first book published, I had written
six of them, just because I thought it was so much fun. Getting
the first two books published was actually an excuse to get
to keep writing them. Thank goodness it worked out because my
husband's patience was growing thin. He viewed my writing as
a hobby and whim until that time, and with three children, there
is not a lot of extra time to pursue a hobby.
Bev: Has any particular author been an inspiration
Connie: I love so many children's books that it would
take too long to answer this question. However, my children
loved the Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osborne when they
were in second and third grade. I remember reading those books
with my kids, thinking that the author of this series had the
greatest job in the world.
Bev: Tell us about developing the plots for your books.
Do you do extensive outlining and plotting before you begin
to write your stories?
Connie: I have to admit that I don't do a lot of planning.
I really work best when I write impulsively. I plan the general
plot of the story and then just let the story unravel from there.
I enjoy writing with spontaneity.
Bev: I just finished reading The Criminal in the
Caymans and Treasure in Tahiti. What fun! What
an exciting concept. Tell us about your research for these exotic
places. Do you actually go to the various places to research
the sites for these adventures?
Connie: I've been to most of the places that the books
visit. I also research each place that the books visit using
books and the Internet. I want the books to be educational,
so I enjoy researching the places and throwing in factual things
here and there.
Bev: Sam and Max are great characters. Do you think
that your own family member's personalities show up here? Tell
us about developing them for the series.
Connie: I originally wrote the first six books for
my two sons and so the characters are loosely based on them.
I enjoy using real-life characters in the books. In the first
book, The Criminal in the Caymans, I used the names
of kids we knew in the chapter, Fungus Feet. And in the third
book, Adventure in Africa, I use the names of children
in my son's fourth-grade class. Kids really get a kick out of
that. But I also use many fictional names and elements as well.
Bev: OK...the old leather journal and the map...I
didn't get it. Where did they come from?
Connie: That's a continuing mystery that will be solved
in a later book. The mystery of where these items came from
will end up having a very logical explanation, as well as the
letters appearing on the map. I thought it would be fun to have
not only a mystery or adventure in each book but an ongoing
mystery as well. I also wanted to introduce a map into the series
to add an educational element and that was a way of doing that.
I've always had a love for things old, like the journal. It
ties the past in with the present, and I find that interesting.
Bev: I see that Pirates in Paradise, number
three, and Adventure In Africa, number four in the
series will both be available in October. Do you have plans
for other books in the series?
Connie: Yes, I plan to write two to four books a year
for the series. It's my way of getting to live in a constant
world of adventure and have an excuse for doing so.
Bev: What do you like best about being a published
author of children's books?
Connie: I love the impact that it makes on the children
that read the books. If I can add a little bit of adventure
into a child's life, that is very exciting to me. Like I said
earlier, I grew up in a small town in Kentucky, never leaving
the state except going across the state border to Tennessee
to visit my grandparents. Although these states are wonderful
places to grow up, I always longed to see what other parts of
the world were like. I hope the books get children interested
in exploring other parts of the world and open their minds to
other cultures and ways of living.
Bev: Is there a downside?
Connie: I can't think of a single thing that has been
negative. The experience has been very positive for me.
Bev: Do you belong to any writer's groups?
Connie: I don't at this time. I would love to join
one in the city in which I live, Tampa; however, I've been so
busy writing for the series and raising three children, I haven't
yet made the time. I think a writer's group would be very fun
Bev: What is the best advice you ever received about
your quest to become a writer?
Connie: To edit, edit, edit. Sure, the creative part
of writing is certainly the fun part, but editing is just as
Bev: Do you have any other thoughts you would like
to share with us?
Connie: My advice to anyone who wants to become a writer
is to make sure it's something you love to do. In other words,
write because it's gratifying to you, something you enjoy, not
to get published.
Criminal in the Caymans
By Connie Lee Berry
Kid's Fun Press -- February 28, 2006
ISBN: 10: 0977284808
Children/Fiction - Ages 9-12
by Beverly J. Rowe, MyShelf.com
Second grader, Sam, and his third grade brother, Max, just
can't wait for spring break. Then they find out that their dad
has a job to do in the Cayman Islands, and they will be going
there too. Odd things start happening to Max and Sam after they
find out they are going to the Cayman Islands for spring break.
Two mysterious boxes arrive on their doorstep, one containing
an ancient leather-bound journal and the other an old, frail
map. A notation on the map indicates that it was made over 40
years ago, but across the top is printed "Max and Sam's
Incredible Journey Map."
Unusual, funny events seem to plague the two boys, but their
plane finally arrives at their Caribbean destination. Then they
overhear a telephone conversation and discover that a guy on
the beach may be one who was shown on national television on
the America's Most Wanted program. The adventurous boys plot
to help catch this frightening character after they spot a tell-tale
tattoo on his stomach as he relaxes in a beach chair. And then
they discover a secret about their father and his clandestine
reason for coming to the Caymans.
Connie Lee Berry has crafted a lively, funny story, filled
with mysteries and secrets. Max and Sam are engaging characters
who manage to get themselves tangled up in danger and excitement
in this fast-paced adventure in an exotic place. The illustrations
add visual interest, and the back pages of the book have interesting
facts about the Cayman Islands, tell you how you can join the
Incredible Journey Club, and tell you how you can submit your
own science projects and fun poems to be included in future
Incredible Journey books. What fun!
Incredible Journey series, # 2
By Connie Lee Berry
Kid's Fun Press-- August 1, 2007
ISBN: 10: 0-9772848-1-6 - 13: 978-0-9772848-1-8
Children/Fiction - Ages 9-12
Reviewed by Beverly J. Rowe, MyShelf.com
Mr. Stone is being sent to the exotic island of Tahiti for work,
and the Stone family will accompany him in this new Incredible
Journey adventure. It's a last-minute scramble to get ready
and to the airport in time for their flight.
This time, they aren't staying in a fancy hotel as they did
in the Caymans...they are ushered to a small, rickety hut; but
it does have a beach and the ocean in the backyard. Oh, well,
camping in paradise might be fun. When the boys find a jar buried
beneath the floor of the hut containing what appears to be an
old treasure map, dated 1904, the adventure begins.
Mr. Stone takes the boys to a nearby island by canoe, where
they come across signs that warn them off the island. The signs
seem to be very old, and Max and Sam remember the rumors that
the bounty from a bank robbery many years ago was hidden on
an island. Their interest piqued, the boys decide to explore
the island and find more trouble than they bargained for with
a hair-raising chase scene that will take your breath away.
Connie Lee Berry continues the exciting series with compelling
characters, fast action, and lots of laughs. The illustrations
add visual impact to the story, and Berry includes history and
interesting facts about the location, cool science projects
and a poem in the back of the book.
Watch for upcoming Incredible Journey books, Adventure
in Africa and Pirates in Paradise, available in