Reviews for Emerald Atlas : Library Edition

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #4
Ten years after being separated from their parents, three orphans, Kate, Michael, and Emma, are sent to live at a peculiar institution in the town of Cambridge Falls. This first book in a series introduces the siblings' involvement in an epic battle between good and evil magic as they discover a powerful book called the Atlas that sends them fifteen years back in time. The three children embark on a lengthy adventure to find the emerald book again in the past, all while trying to defeat an evil Countess, save the lives of the Cambridge Falls children, and get back to the future. Narrator Dale's performance of the myriad voices of the large cast of characters is thoroughly engaging. The distinctive tones he masters for each speaker and the fluid pacing bring this book, full of rollicking action and humor, to life. The only drawback is Dale's British accent, which seems out of place in this very American story, but his skilled narration makes the time (eleven and a half hours) fly by. cynthia k. ritter Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews 2011 July

Gr 4-8--Like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, this story begins with three orphans in dire circumstances. Like Harry Potter, the story contains magic that grows as the characters mature. Like Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time, there is a rescue mission and travel through both time and space. And like J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, there are blustery yet valiant dwarves and evil magical creatures. So yes, John Stephens's story (Knopf, 2011) might be described as derivative. But, the book is unique enough to draw the same audience that appreciates the other series and give them something new and exciting. Kate, Michael, and Emma have been alone for years, wondering what happened to their parents. They discover that it has something to do with an ancient evil, a wicked Countess, and a town with the no children. The solution seems to lie in a magical book that permits them to travel back and forth in time, creating a variety of alternate futures and pasts, and allows them to solve problems using the atlas's unique abilities. Kate is the responsible one, putting the needs of others ahead of her own. Michael loves dwarves, and is delighted to actually meet some. Emma, the youngest, combines vulnerability with stubborn grit. Together the children must solve problems, learn to use magic, and stay together as a family. Jim Dale provides a stellar performance, creating unique voices for the characters. He draws listeners along at a compelling pace, using his vocal skills to immerse them in the unique worlds created in the book. The time travel plot can be quite complex, but Dale never lets listeners get bogged down. Fantasy fans will anxiously await the next installment.--Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School. Federal Way, WA

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 August

Gr 6-9--When Doug Swieteck's father loses his job, the whole family is forced to move to upstate New York. His new home, "The Dump," is in the dullest town ever, and Doug hates his new life. That is, until he meets the local grocer's daughter, Lil, and starts to think that the town might have something worthwhile in it after all. Following Lil into the library, Doug comes across a copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America and becomes immersed in a whole new world of art. As he slowly learns to drop his tough guy exterior, developed from having a father with "lightning quick hands," Doug begins to open up to his neighbors and finds both comfort and acceptance as they begin to share their idyllic world with him. Many painful secrets are delicately handled in Gary Schmidt's fantastic companion to The Wednesday Wars (Clarion, 2007). Lincoln Hoppe effortlessly captures the "tough guy with a heart of gold" tone that epitomizes Doug's emotional journey. His even pacing and matter-of-fact delivery soften the devastating revelations about Doug's abusive father, his eldest brother's war injuries, and Lil's bout with cancer. This excellent audiobook should top purchase lists in school and public libraries.--Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT

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