table of contents
SF & Fantasy

Young Adult Fantasy

In the rec.arts.books newsgroup a query about the book, A Fine and Private Place, led to a discussion of the vaguely defined category of Young Adult Fantasy. People suggested a number of authors and books that fit the category. Their collected suggestions are given in the following table.

Joan Aiken Dido Twite series
A Harp of Fishbones
Lloyd Alexander The Prydain pentology
The Iron Ring
The First Two Lives of Lukas Kasha
John Barnes One for the Rising
L Frank Baum The Wizard of Oz
Peter Beagle A Fine and Private place
The Last Unicorn
The Innkeeper’s Song
John Bellairs The Face in the Frost
Lewis Carroll Alice In Wonderland
Through the Looking Glass
John Collier
Susan Cooper The Dark is Rising
John Crowley Little, Big
Madeleine L’Engle Wrinkle In Time
Antonia Forest Peter’s Room
John Gardner
Alan Garner Owl Service
Red Shift
Nicholas Stuart Gray
Diana Wynne Jones Fire & Hemlock
Ursula LeGuin A Wizard of Earthsea trilogy
C.S. Lewis The Narnia Chronicles
E. Nesbitt
Mervyn Peake
Daniel Pinkwater Five Novels by Daniel Pinkwater
Phillip Pullman
James Thurber The 13 Clocks
The White Deer
The Wonderful O
J.R.R. Tolkien The Hobbit
T. H. White The Once and Future King

The Menasha Public Library has a URL listing Fantasy books for teens:

Their listing exemplifies some of the difficulties in drawing the boundaries for this genre (my criteria may be idiosyncratic.) For example they list Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane which is a fine fantasy novel and one I am confident that many young teens would enjoy. It is not in any real sense young adult fantasy.

More ominously, they list Piers Anthony’s On A Pale Horse. Anthony is, perhaps, the premier fantasy hack of our time. OAPH is not young adult fantasy. What are we to make, however, of the Xanth series? It is targeted to, ah, young adults. It is not just my stomach that objects to including it – ignoring its dubious literary qualities, it simply doesn’t have the same tone as the kinds of works I am thinking of as young adult fantasy.

I am also a bit dubious about including Nesbitt (IIRC her works about the Bastable children) on the grounds that the protagonists of YAF’s are not generally children. That is inconsistent since the Narnia series does belong. And what about books with animals as protagonists: Does one count Watership Down?

An odd criterion, but one that often applies, is that works in this category are offered with illustrations.

Thanks to everybody for the suggestions and thoughts. It makes for a nice list of books and authors to look for.

This page was last updated February 11, 1999.