Has the fact that there are no more Harry Potter books left a big gaping hole in your summer reading list? Dive into The Underland Chronicles, an excellent and mythic series by Suzanne Collins.
The first book in the 5-part Underland Chronicles is Gregor the Overlander. Gregor is an 11-year-old boy who falls through the grate in the laundry room of his New York City apartment building to find himself in a strange new world below. (New Yorkers, you know what I’m talking about here… who hasn’t slipped through a grate into a creepy subterranean world?)
Gregor finds himself in the Underland city of Regalia, where the humans have translucent skin and lavender eyes. Gregor soon meets a host of other species, large animals that have different roles in the Underland. There are fliers (bats), gnawers (rats), and crawlers (cockroaches) among others. Gregor soon learns that Bartholomew of Sandwich, an explorer who founded the human colony in the Underland, wrote a series of prophecies in which Gregor (“The Warrior”) has the starring role. Gregor reluctantly goes on great, dangerous journeys, and each book in the series fulfills one of the prophecies.
What I like about this series is the way that it tackles very serious topics like war and racism using great mythology and storytelling. You see, the humans and bats have a special bond. The rats and the humans hate each other and are perpetually on the verge of war. And no one has any respect for the crawlers. Gregor must navigate all of this, helping to keep peace in the Underland. The story of Gregor is an effective allegory through which kids may make sense of some of the disturbing current events in our very own Overland.
Amazon: Gregor The Overlander