Fantastic Fantasies for Young and Old
By Hollie Parry and Cheryl Caldwell

In these waning days of summer, it isn’t too late to lie under a tree and lose yourself in another world.  Here are three books that may have been written for young people, but that will captivate readers of all ages.  Each of them is whimsical, if not downright fanciful, and each of them is a thoroughly good read.

Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech

Thirteen year old Zinnia Taylor tries to sort through the “spaghetti bowl of her life in search of a meatball.” She lives in Bybanks, Kentucky, with her large family and an aunt and uncle. She discovers a mysterious overgrown trail at the edge of her family’s farm and is determined to clear it to the end.

Zinny, as is her nickname, needs to clear this trail for reasons unknown to her. She finds it provides a quiet place for her away from her family where she can hear herself think. As she uncovers the trail she also uncovers memories, family secrets and answers to questions she has had about her past, her place in life and her personal worth. Zinny discovers that in her tangled up life some journeys must be traveled alone and this one is a journey that leads her back home.

This story is told from Zinnia’s perspective and is very touching at times. For anyone struggling to find a place in their family and in the world this is a tender-hearted story worth reading. The Southern language invites warmth and humor. A highly recommended book!

Fish by LS Matthews

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Told in first person, Fish is the story of a family put to the ultimate survival test as they travel across mountains and deserts to find safety.  The child in the story rescues a fish from a puddle and puts it in a water bottle, just as they start on their journey.  The fish becomes his symbol of survival and every day the fish survives the journey, so does the boy. Although the parents humor the boy by letting him keep such a ridiculous thing as a tiny fish in a water bottle, they are surprised to watch how saving the fish becomes a family pursuit.  This is a story of miracles, of endurance, and of the power of the human will to survive. It’s interesting to note that the author of this book has inserted her political opinions in a very subtle way, mid-book. Fish is a story that will appeal to readers who enjoy triumph at the end of a hard struggle.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

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Princess Addie and Princess Meryl are the young daughters of an absentee king and a deceased queen.  Meryl is brave and audacious, while Addie seems cowardly and dreadfully frightened of most things; especially spiders.  Meryl speaks of quests and adventures, contrasted by Addie ? who is content to embroider beautiful tapestries and wish for peace and safety. Meryl yearns to venture out into the world and find a cure for the dreadful Gray Death disease, which is claiming the lives of many in the kingdom.  As fate would have it, before she is able to leave for her quest, Meryl contracts this fatal disease and the task of finding the cure falls to Addie.  Armed with great love and special gifts, Addie ventures out to outwit and slay a dragon, overcome magical creatures, and ultimately face her fears to save her sister’s dwindling life while finding her own. The Two Princesses of Bamarre is a book with a surprise ending that shows that love is the ultimate source of courage and truly does conquer all.

2005 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.