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Haroun and the Sea of Stories
by Salman Rushdie (1990)


Rushdie's first novel after the sensationally controversial 'The Satanic Verses' (1988) is the story of a boy who journeys to a mystical land in order to restore his father's storytelling ability. With the help of some colourful companions he faces the evil Khattam-Shud ('The End') who is endeavouring to cut of the spring of stories. As always, socio-political issues underpin the storyline.





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'The Saga of Recluce'
by L E Modesitt Jr (1991)


Younger readers should enjoy the tales from the Saga of Recluce about a questioning youth's coming of age. The series starts in the utopian land of Wandernaught, where a boy in his mid-teens must choose between exile or a dangerous journey of discovery. On the journey he faces a choice between good and evil and has to find out what each is all about.





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Life of Pi
by Yann Martel (2001)


Pi and his father, a zookeeper, pack up and head to Canada with their animals. A shipwreck sees Pi adrift on a lifeboat with some animals that survived - including an orangutan, an injured zebra and a hyena. Canadian author Martel's prize-winning novel is an intense examination of hallucination versus reality, with an underlying religious theme emphasising the essential nature of belief.





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'The Spiderwick Chronicles'
by Holly Black (2003)


Author Holly Black made her name with this wonderful series for kids, starting with The Field Guide in 2003. The three Grace children - Mallory, Jared, and Simon - and their mother move into Aunt Lucinda's old house, only to discover that there is magic afoot. Hidden amongst the piles of junk is Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You… and the adventure begins.





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'The Underland Chronicles'
by Suzanne Collins (2003)


This great series starts with Gregor the Overlander. Following his father's disappearance Gregor gives up his chance to go to summer camp to stay and home and look after his two year old sister Boots. A mishap sees the two end up in a bizarre underworld. With a gaggle of bats, giant cockroaches & spiders, and a rat he set out on a quest to find his father and save Underland.





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'The Inkheart Trilogy'
by Cornelia Funke (2003)


In the beginning, Meggie learns that her father Mo can "read" characters out of books - meaning he can quite literally bring them to life. Unfortunately Mo has released the murderous villain Capricorn from Inkheart. On the run from his henchmen Meggie, her great-aunt Elinor, Mo and the character Dustfinger must find the book's author and get a new ending written. Terrific series.





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'Children of the Red King'
by Jenny Nimmo (2003)


Charlie is one of the endowed - an ancestor of the Red King, each of whom has a unique magical ability. Charlie's gift is that he can look at photographs and hear conversations and thoughts from when it was taken. Toss in an exclusive boarding school and the comparisons to Harry Potter are obvious. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as this series has plenty merits of its own.





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'Leven Thumps'
by Obert Skye (2005)


Leven Thumps is no ordinary 14yo boy, but that's exactly what Sabine and his dark shadows want him to believe. The evil forces know the fate of the world can be saved by only one boy with a powerful gift he has yet to understand or control. The author states that publishing his story as a fictional series was not his first choice, however, he is content that the "history" is being told.


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