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The Emerald Atlas (The Books of Beginning #1)

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  16,700 Ratings  ·  2,038 Reviews
They were taken from their beds one frozen night, when the world was covered in snow. The silhouette of a tall, thin man has haunted Kate ever since.

Ten years on, Kate, Michael and Emma have grown up in a string of miserable orphanages, and all memories of their parents have faded to a blur. Arriving at Cambridge Falls, the children quickly realise there is something diffe
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Doubleday Childrens (first published January 1st 2011)
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Arianna RW Yes it is very fictional unless you think wizards, elves, dwarves, dragons, and time travel. Is real :) Ps: loved the series so much!!
Mea You aren't supposed to be able to read books on Goodreads. I would suggest ordering it at the library, or buying it.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 08, 2010 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans
I requested this book thinking that it would be a fun and magical children's story aimed at 8-10 year olds, like with the Percy Jackson series, but I was really surprised by the complexity and depth in this book, as well as the darkness, and loved every minute of reading it. I'm actually a little disappointed that I'll now have to wait for so long to read the next book and see what happens.

Kate, Michael and Emma have been shunted from orphanage to orphanage for 10 years, since being removed fro
Aug 03, 2011 Priscilla rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AHHHHHHH!!! So good.

First impressions:
1. The story is amazing! It's fantastical, magical, fast-paced and action-packed!
2. Characters are love. The relationships between Kate, Michael and Emma are great. There is a fierce love and hate (like with all siblings) relationship between them. And their growth and development is outstanding! There are great side characters as well.
3. Fresh. You would think orphans on a quest/adventure to save the world has been done a billion + 1 times, but The Emerald
Cora ☕ Tea Party Princess

This was as magical as Harry Potter and as epic as Narnia. The Emerald Atlas was simply a delight to read.

This is a fantastic children's fantasy. The characters are engaging and each has their own personality, making it easy to relate to at least one. And they have flaws. They have real believable flaws.

The world is simply enchanting. It is built so well that I could imagine it all so well - at points I wondered to myself if there had been a dramatisation of this made because it really came
Feb 18, 2015 Ivan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I was 10-15 younger I would rate this book 5/5 without a doubt. Now I am maybe bit too old but I enjoyed it, it was lovely book.
Must read for fans of books like Narnia or comics like Amulet
Jul 06, 2011 Nian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
The Emerald Atlas reads like a mix of C.S.Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter, and even Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was just too much - so many plots and elements taken from every other popular series that Stephens almost fails to deliver his own twists, his unique charms, to the novel.

Stephen's protagonists are not unfamiliar. They're almost archetypal. And certainly, the're very reminiscent of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire - p
Aug 10, 2011 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While it is possible for a plot to be too simple, this author seemed to believe that his story would get better and better the more complicated he could make the plot. What we end up with is three protagonists who are rarely together so we have to follow at least two and sometimes three different story lines at the same time with constant shifting between them, not to mention all the not-very-well-defined time traveling and it's kind of a mess. There are two or three chapters near the end which ...more
Jun 20, 2011 Jeffrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 10 to 12 set who have finished Harry Potter and want a new adventure
Recommended to Jeffrey by: New York Times
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2011
JK Rowlings Harry Potter series resulted in a cataclysmic change in fantasy fiction for children. Forty years ago science fiction was marketed to children and young adults. Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula LeGuin were available at the library, but fantasy was mostly missing. This is not to say fantasy novels were not available, but it was primarily limited to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It was not until The Sword of Shannara was published in 1977 and becam ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Okay...I torn here. I'd like to go a bit more than 3 stars here, but if I do I'll need to go find all my 4 star books and move them up to 5, then what do i do with the 5 star books?

So, stuck with 3 and telling you i find it a bit better than "just 3".

You will, if like me, you occasionally pick up a YA book or if you have "YAs" in your life and read with them, find some of this book somewhat familiar. A group of 3 children (rather than a single child) are whisked away into the night away from th
Sep 24, 2011 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, re-read
This is an amazing book! Let me restate that: this is an AMAZING, TERRIFIC, APPALLING, AWESOME, EXTREME, SHOCKING, MONSTROUS, ASTOUNDING, ELECTRIFYING, FLABBERGASTING, IMPRESSING, ASTONISHING, IMAGINATIVE, GRASPING book!!!!!!!! Ten years ago Christmas, 3 kids were dropped at an orphanage. They know their parents are alive. For the past ten years the children have gone from orphange to orphanage. Now they are headed to the mysterios Cambridge Falls that nobody can tell them anything about. There ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Isidora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Skoro nisam citala ovakvu knjigu :)
Predivan stil,odlicni likovi,prica zaista prelepo ispricana.
Iz stranica ispadaju patuljci,carobnjaci,grofovi i jos svakakva bica a to pricu cini zaista izuzetnom i lako citljivom :)
Preporucujem svim ljubiteljima Hari Potera i fantastike :)
First in a series of three (I'm guessing) about three kids who are supposed to save the world. The only thing is they don't know why and they don't know how...

These three kids, Kate, Michael and Emma are orphans. Their parents had them taken to an orphanage ten years ago with a promise to Kate that they would be back. Since then the children have been shuffled from home to home never giving up on their parents and never allowing themselves to be adopted. They eventually end up in a place called
Sep 23, 2012 Mitch rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
John Steven's "The Emerald Atlas" was a real dud. It didn't know what it wanted to be, Harry Potter or Narnia. And it failed to be either and also failed to be something new and original. The plot was dull, the characters unlikeable, and the plotline forced. I kept reading on and on hoping for it to get better but instead I started disliking it evermore.

I had high hopes for this one...3 children, parents suddenly vanish, then they are young teens who go on an adventure on a strange island. Soun
Jul 31, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magic, fantasy, favorites
I’m personally not a big fan of fantasy books, but I picked this one up because it got such good reviews and sounded interesting. The first book in a new trilogy, it’s the story of 3 young siblings who have been in various orphanages for 10 years, despite their conviction that their parents are coming back for them some day. Their lives change when Kate, Michael and Emma discover a powerful book of magic which leads them on exciting but dangerous time travel adventures and to the realization tha ...more
Rachel Lightwood
The Emerald Atlas has been sitting on my shelf for years and years. I got it as a gift... I think? But never got around to picking it up.

Now I know why.

This story was nothing but a poorly written snozefest. There was a good idea behind it but the execution was shoddy. The descriptions were just really lacking and it made me really struggle to get enthused to read further. I cannot honestly not tell you want two of our protagonists, Kate or Emma, looks like. Michael has glasses. That's all I pic
Dec 17, 2012 Amelie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ich kann die Geschichte nicht vorbehaltlos bewerten, da das Hörspiel ja nun einmal doch sehr stark gekürzt ist, aber ich bewerte hier einfach mal das, was ich gehört habe:
Die Abenteuer um Michael, Kate und Emma können einen von Beginn an verzaubern. Es ist diese Art von Zauber, den auch Harry Potter auf mich gehabt hatte. Zwar ist es eigentlich eher ein Kinderbuch, aber ich finde, dass hier durchaus auch Erwachsene ihre Freude dran haben werden.
Was mir mit am besten gefallen hat,
Rachael Stein
When I was a "real" children's librarian, I tried to maintain a familiarity with the books that were popular with kids, which occasionally meant reading books that didn't live up to my lofty literary standards. Since I don't work directly with the public anymore, I rarely take the time to read mediocre books on purpose. Sometimes I feel like this gives me a skewed set of standards for the books I do read. It's easy to nitpick A Monster Calls when you're comparing it to Breadcrumbs, instead of th ...more
What do you get if you throw together The Series of Unfortunate Events, The Lord of the Rings, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and a little bit of Harry Potter type magic? You get this book, an adventure story, a fantasy story - a story of orphans and wizards, hidden books and midnight chases.

One winter night, four year old Kate and her two siblings are separated from their parents for a secret purpose - and while she wants to believe they are still alive, ten years of orphanage swapping be
Nov 04, 2010 Kerith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, audio
I started this with a fair amount of skepticism. Considering this has all the hallmarks of the usual derivative fantasy: "children of destiny", a missing magical object upon which the safety of the world hangs in the balance, a very evil bad person, an angelic good person, DWARVES, a wizard, etc etc...really, I should have been rolling my eyes so hard they fell out. But I wasn't. I really, really liked it. The place and time feel like the present, and yet not quite (in what Baltimore is there an ...more
Jul 22, 2011 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastical adventure! This was an enjoyable book filled with magic, wizards, dwarves, prophecy and humor. I only gave this book 3 stars because the three main characters; the children Kate, Emma & Michael weren't my favourite characters. I found that I liked them ok but who I thought was fantastic was Dr Pym. He was funny, brave and mysterious. Kind of reminded me of Dumbledore.... I loved the ending and look forward to the next installment.
Jan 05, 2014 Aleshanee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, jugendbuch
4,5 Sterne

Zum Inhalt

Seit ihre Eltern an einem Weihnachtsabend vor 10 Jahren unter mysteriösen Umständen verschwanden, sind die drei Geschwister Kate, Michael und Emma von einem Heim ins nächste gewandert. Momentan leben sie unter der strengen Aufsicht von Mrs. Crumley im Edgar-Allan-Po Waisenhaus für schwer erziehbare Kinder und sie haben gelernt, sich mit jeder widrigen Situation auseinanderzusetzen - die Hoffnung, ihre Eltern irgendwann wieder zu sehen, haben sie aber nicht aufgegeben.
Mrs Crum
Complete review at:

(An almost 5)

Summary: Kate, Michael and Emma have been alone for 10 years. Kate's last memory of her mother is as the 3 of them were being taken away; her mother told her to take care of her siblings and that has been the center of Kate's existence since then. And she has done the best she could as the three of them have been shuffled from orphanage to orphanage never really finding home and always wondering why their parents abandoned
Kristin (Beneath Shining Stars, I Read)
Admittedly, when I think of books involving siblings, A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis immediately spring to mind. In part, I was afraid that it would drift too closely along those lines and I am pleased to say that it was unique.

Siblings Kate (the eldest), Michael (the middle child), and Emma (the youngest) have been whisked away from the safety and comfort of their own home to be protected from the darker forces that are after them. A
Nov 14, 2012 Katri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Actual rating might be 3.5.

A fun and fairly original fantasy adventure, the first of a series, aimed especially at children/teenager audience. The story was original and imaginative enough, though still having a lot that reminds you of things in various fantasy books. It's about three siblings (Kate, Michael and Emma) who have spent almost all their lives wandering from one orphanage to another, until the last one they're sent to is the start of an unexpected adventure involving a mysterious mag
Jun 06, 2011 Jenna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty magical.

I picked it up not really knowing what to expect, except that I liked the cover (yep, I judge books by their covers), and that it was "kinda like Harry Potter" according to my fiance, who'd read about one chapter of it before I stole it off him while we were on holidays. Well, it is "kinda like Harry Potter", in that it involves an old wizard, a trio of kids, magic and a few mythical creatures, but that description could also apply to most children's fantasy novels.
Barb Middleton
Feb 13, 2012 Barb Middleton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Magic. Wizards. Time Travel. Dwarves. Witches. Adventure. Sounds fun, right? It is!

In The Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens, Kate, Michael, and Emma are being shuffled from orphanage to orphanage after their parents mysteriously give them up. Kate is told by her mother to look after Michael and Emma, but when they end up in a creepy mansion in Cambridge Falls with a book that allows them to travel through time, Kate’s job becomes impossible. Not only are evil creatures trying to capture the three

Doing a re-read for the upcoming to-be-read sequel: The Fire Chronicle

Kate, Michael, and Emma were dropped off at an orphanage when Kate was 4. She was told by her mother to take care of her siblings and so she has. She's watched them through 10 years, many orphanages, some rather hellish, and all the while believing that their parents will come back.

Weeell, best of luck, dearies. It'll be a while.

So they are told that if they don't shape up, (Emma is a bit of a handful(she reminded me of Daphen
Alma Q
If I rated high every book that has made me both cry and laugh, The Emerald Atlas would be a 5.

It is not, though. Because it's one of the books I have hated with such passion, it made even the people around me wish I would have stopped reading it halfway through. I just wished I was allowed to first tear it to shreds, then spit at it, and finally burn it. Which is... pretty extreme for someone like me. Especially because I didn't even think this book is insulting anything other than 1. the fanta
Mar 27, 2015 Angigames rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stelle stiracchiate (ma solo perché non essendo più tanto Young non riesco apprezzare alcune cose, con mio grande dispiacere…)
Eccolo il libro che volevo leggere da anni! Una trilogia che prima di iniziare, visto le abitudini delle nostre CE, volevo essere sicura che finisse. Stavolta sono stata accontentata, niente serie a metà, quindi mi sono tuffata in questa trilogia fantasy che non ha nulla da invidiare alle cugine più famose.
L’autore sa il fatto suo. Dalla prima pagina si è catapultati
Lo primero que se me ocurre decir sobre The Emerald Atlas es que me sorprendió.
Le tenía muchas ganas y tenía las expectativas bien altas con este libro. Y por suerte no me decepcionó.

La historia no fue nada lo que me esperaba. En las reseñas que leí decían que era una copia de Harry Potter, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, y todos los libros juveniles juntos. Pero nada que ver. Es verdad que tiene "aires" a todos esos libros, y se puede decir que el autor, John Stephens, se inspiró en ello
Feb 02, 2011 Brenda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Kate, Michael and Emma have been living in orphanages since they were taken away from their parent's with a promise that they will all be reunited one day. After things fall through with their placement with a new family, the children are brought to Cambridge Falls. It is here that the children begin their adventure. There is something very comforting and familiar while reading this story. It has a classic book feel but also is quite unique as well. There is also a great deal of complexity with ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

John Stephens spent ten years working in television and was executive producer of Gossip Girl and a writer for Gilmore Girls and The O.C. He holds an MFA from the University of Virginia. John and his wife have a dog named Bug and live in Los Angeles. His debut book 'The Emerald Atlas' is the first in a series of
More about John Stephens...

Other Books in the Series

The Books of Beginning (3 books)
  • The Fire Chronicle (The Books of Beginning, #2)
  • The Black Reckoning (The Books of Beginning, #3)

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“But I guess everything in life is a bit disappointing, isn't it?” 43 likes
“Time, Kate was learning, was like a river. You might put up obstacles, even divert it briefly, but the river had a will of it's own. It wanted to flow a certain way. You had to force it to change. You had to be willing to sacrifice.” 28 likes
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