By: Sydney Spangler
When I was younger, it was a common sight to find my head in between the pages of a book. I was always reading. Books were—and still are—a great comfort to me. Even as an adult, I can be found perusing stacks at a bookstore or swiping through pages on my phone.
I was recently at my local Half Price Books when I felt a pang for nostalgia. I wanted to see if they carried any titles I read in elementary school—and they did! They had quite the selection from "A Series of Unfortunate Events" by Lemony Snicket to "The Bartimaeus Trilogy" by Jonathan Stroud. But what really stood out to me was volumes of a series I hadn't thought of in years—"Children of the Red King."
"Children of the Red King" contains 10 novels written by British author Jenny Nimmo. The books follow 10-year-old Charlie Bone, who discovers he has a special power that triggers a series of adventures. I quickly purchased the first book, titled "Midnight for Charlie Bone," and dove into Charlie's world.
Stemming from a great ancestor called the Red King, Charlie and the king's other descendants each inherit a magical power. However, some of the king's descendants seek to use those powers to their advantage—harming all who stand in their way. It's up to Charlie and his gaggle of friends to put balance into the world, keeping those who aim to use their powers for evil in check.
In the first book, Charlie comes into his power—the ability to hear voices of people in photographs. He discovers that his father's side of the family is related to the mystical Red King and that there are others who are endowed with powers like him. His cruel Grandmother Bone and her three sisters send Charlie to Bloor Academy, a school known for having genius students. Bloor Academy is also where many endowed children are sent to study. But before Charlie can start his first day at a new school, he embarks on a secret mission to return a photograph to its rightful owner. Little does he know that this will lead Charlie to a mysterious briefcase, a missing baby, and clues about his father's disappearance.
"Midnight for Charlie Bone" is packed full of fantasy, mystery, and the determination to make things right. Charlie is full of courage and his friends to back him up. It's with the help of his friends and some family members that Charlie solves the mystery and unites a family torn apart.
The series of novels is episodic, with each book following Charlie on a new adventure as he uncovers new mysteries about his family, Bloor Academy, and the Red King. Despite the dangers Charlie and his gang faces, the series—like all of its books—end on a high note. Evil is defeated and Charlie and his friends get a happy ending.
"Children of the Red King" is suited for grades 3-7.