Tag: young adult

The Outlaws of Time Series | ND Wilson

Not long ago, Mitch and I spent eight days on an island. The girls packed up the essentials—clothes, pajamas, pillows, dolls, complete dolls’ wardrobe, journals, schoolwork, beloved books, and a half dozen stuffed animals—and spent the week with their grandparents, savoring what became fondly known as “The Big Sleepover.”

We, meanwhile, boarded a plane bound for Kaua’i. (It is a big moment, taking off into the air knowing that one’s children are still below, hidden in one of those tiny dots of light.)

One elbow of the Na Pali coast | Little Book, Big Story

We spent the week exploring—riding rented bikes to beaches, befriending wild roosters, and hiking, in one morning, both the muddiest trail I’ve ever seen and the most beautiful. We ate out for every meal (glorious!); we considered the wisdom of smuggling home shave ice in our suitcase for the girls. We spent hours browsing the island’s one, noteworthy bookstore and managed to leave with only eight new books.

And we read. Without interruption.

But we did not read just any books. For a trip like this—a “we haven’t been away this long since our honeymoon fifteen years ago” trip—one cannot read just any books. And so we packed the Outlaws of Time books by N.D. Wilson.

The Outlaws of Time (series), by N.D. Wilson | Little Book, Big Story

Mitch read them first, then re-read the second one while I re-read the first, then read something else but looked longingly over at my book while I read the second one for the first time. The third book released not long after we got home, and we passed that one back and forth and, when finished, debated the wisdom of immediately re-reading the entire series all over again.

That explains, pretty well, our relationship with these books: Outlaws of Time is a brilliant series, and that is one reason to read and reread it. But these books are also intricate, well-tuned. The plot features time travel, and it is a bit of work to keep straight who is where when and what iteration of themselves is currently in action. But “confusing” is the wrong word. “Dizzying” might be better. The books are satisfying, though they leave one’s ears ringing by the end.

The Outlaws of Time (series), by N.D. Wilson | Little Book, Big Story

Here is the book’s premise: Sam Miracle can’t bend his arms. His joints are fused together by some forgotten trauma that makes motion stiff and painful, and his memory is pockmarked with holes, confused by daydreams that end with his own death. He is broken and cast off in a youth home in the desert—until a terrifying visitor from the past he can’t remember arrives.

(If that story sounds like a fever-fed dream to you, there’s a good reason for that.)

The Outlaws of Time (series), by N.D. Wilson | Little Book, Big Story

And so, I recommend reading Outlaws of Time when you have time to reread them immediately, just in case you’re inclined to. You’ll find more in them each time, I promise, and things that didn’t make perfect sense the first time through will feel fitting—inevitable even—the second time you read them.

I will make one more recommendation: pre-read these for your kids. I love so many things about these stories, but they are dark—maybe even darker than 100 Cupboardsso I recommend reading them through for yourself before handing them over to your kids.  You know best what your kids ready for.


The Outlaws of Time Series
N.D. Wilson (2017-2018)


One last Note

Wildflowers Magazine (GIVEAWAY!) | Little Book, Big Story

Today is the last day to enter to win a copy of Wildflowers magazine! You can do that here.

The Mysterious Benedict Society | Trenton Lee Stewart

I occasionally meet a book that doesn’t want me to to tell you a thing about it. Part of the appeal of these books is letting the story lead the me where it wants to go, rather than expecting it to stick to the itinerary mapped out on the back of the book. I know nothing about it when I start but the title, the author’s name, and the name of the reliable friend who brought it to my attention, and that is a pleasure.

The Mysterious Benedict Society (review) | Little Book, Big Story

I want you, if possible, to have this pleasure with The Mysterious Benedict Society. After a few pages, Lydia announced that this book is, indeed, mysterious, and though I’d read it once before, I agreed. Trenton Lee Stewart invites us into a world that is colorful and quirky, that is like ours and yet not like it (for an example of what I mean, consider Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events), but he introduces us to it slowly, giving us only what we need to keep reading. That is all I will tell you about the plot: it is mysterious, quirky, and fascinating.

The Mysterious Benedict Society (review) | Little Book, Big Story

I will tell you a few things more about the book itself, though:

  1. The quirkiness of the story does not undermine its seriousness. The characters face real danger and tough moral conflicts. They sometimes make the wrong choices; sometimes, they make questionable choices for the right reasons. Stewart deals skillfully with those moments, acknowledging that sometimes our choices are made in murky circumstances, and the outcomes are beyond our control. He gives his characters room to wrestle with doubt, too, and that lead to some great conversations on our couch. But there is, under all of this, a clear theme of sacrifice. It’s beautiful.
  2. The Mysterious Benedict Society is illustrated by Carson Ellis, one of my favorite illustrators ever. That may be the reason I picked this book up in the first place.
  3. This is the first of four books, and the only one I’ve read (perhaps because it’s the only one illustrated by Carson Ellis?). But Lydia has moved on to the second book and assures me that it’s just as good as the first.

The Mysterious Benedict Society (review) | Little Book, Big Story

Now, that is all I’ll give you. That and the hearty exhortation to go forth and read this book!


The Mysterious Benedict Society
Trenton Lee Stewart, Carson Ellis (2008)

The Wingfeather Saga | Andrew Peterson

The trouble with reviewing only books that I like is that I have to find one hundred clever ways to say, “I liked this book.” I try to throw out the adjectives—beautiful! amazing! wonderful!—and do my best to explain what I liked about a book and why you might like it, too.

But I couldn’t do that here. My first thought when I sat down to write was THESE BOOKS ARE AMAZING!

My new favorite series: The Wingfeather Saga, by Andrew Peterson | Little Book, Big Story

For three drafts, I couldn’t get past it. Every time I opened this post, that sentence—These books are amazing—beat the rest of the English language out of my head. Andrew Peterson has written exactly the sort of story I was longing for when I wrote about the difficulty of crafting Christian characters, and he has done it in a way that reminds me fondly of Lemony Snicket, Harry Potter, and Narnia all at once.

Peterson’s sense of timing is just right, his use of language is a beautiful thing to behold, and his jokes are spot on. I liked Andrew Peterson immediately for having the sense to throw in that extra “dark” in the title of the first book, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness. Without it, the title would be bland. With it, it was perfect. (The title of the second book—North! Or Be Eaten—is even better.)

The Wingfeather Saga, by Andrew Peterson | Little Book, Big Story

Peterson’s world of Aerwiar is full of wonders—new hollows, and deeps and cities to discover with each story—but I can’t tell you much about the adventures Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby have in it without spoiling major plot points. But oh, how I want to! I wanted badly to discuss these books with someone as I read, but I could think of only one other person I knew who had read them—he is ten and was out of town—so I was left to laugh, cry, and rejoice alone.

(Mitch is reading them now, so that shall soon be remedied.)

The Wingfeather Saga, by Andrew Peterson | Little Book, Big Story

These books are exactly what I think art by Christians ought to be: beautiful and complex, joyful but brutally sad at times, and so well-crafted that they faithfully reflect the work of our Creator. They are not safe or neatly allegorical. They do not close with a sterile moral. But while Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga tells a story framed in a Christian worldview, that story is not told only to Christians. It is a great story by any standards that points, in the right places, toward the Gospel.

In the words of Oskar Reteep (quoting Shank Po), I exhort you: “Get thee busy.” You have books to read.


The Wingfeather Saga
Andrew Peterson (2008-2014)