While I read a healthy amount of young adult fiction, I don’t really read children’s fiction anymore—that nebulous space between chapter books and young adult fiction and adult fiction. But there are two speculative fiction children’s books on my list that have caught my eye recently (it’s like shopping in your own closet!), and that’s what we’re looking at today.
Below the Root by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Raamo, at thirteen, had rarely doubted the wisdom of the Ol-zhaan, the unquestioned rulers of the Green-Sky planet. Yet, after he had been chosen to become an Ol-zhaan, he made surprising discoveries and was exposed to dangers different form any he had envisioned. The world of Green-Sky was not what he and the Kindar people had thought. This engrossing science fiction fantasy was first published by Atheneum in 1978 and is the first book of the Green-Sky Trilogy. It was a Junior Library Guild selection that became the basis for the acclaimed and now classic video game, Below The Root.
I really love plucking recommendations from Fandom Secrets (think Post Secrets, but for nerds); you usually get secrets from people who wonder if anyone’s ever heard of books that they absolutely love and adore. And that’s where this comes from. I didn’t realize it was science fiction until I researched it for this post, but if one person loved it, then I think it’s worth a shot. (And if it was the basis for a video game, I smell a unique review opportunity…)
The Biblophage at Biblophage’s Buffet loved it as a kid, although she notes the worldbuilding has dated a bit. Jennifer at Jen Robinson’s Book Page enjoyed the depth and complexity of the whole trilogy.
Under the Root was published in 1975.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
When a plague strikes Bamarre, Princess Addie must save her sister.
Brave and adventureous, Princess Meryl dreams of fighting dragons and protecting the kingdom of Bamarre. Shy and fearful, Princess Addie is content to stay within the safety of the castle walls. The one thing that the sisters share is their unwavering love for each other.
The tables are turned, however, when the Gray Death leaves Meryl fatally ill. To save her sister, meek Princess Addie must find the courage to set out on a dangerous quest filled with dragons, unknown magic, and death itself. Time is running out, and the sisters’ lives—and the future of the kingdom of Bamarre—hang in the balance.
This is one of the earliest books I remember wanting to read. I was wandering across a field during Parents’ Weekend at the Air Force Academy; I don’t recall what event we (the families of the cadets) were assembled for. I do recall, however, a copy of this book lying just outside of a tote bag. I liked the cover and flipped it over to read the back, before returning it and returning to my wandering. It sounded interesting, and I’ve always meant to read it. I guess nine years later is as good a time as any…
The Two Princesses of Bamarre was published on March 20, 2001.