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The Emerald Atlas

(The Books of Beginning #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  20,520 ratings  ·  2,297 reviews
Called “A new Narnia for the tween set” by the New York Times and perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials series, The Emerald Atlas brims with humor and action as it charts Kate, Michael, and Emma's extraordinary adventures through an unforgettable, enchanted world.
These three siblings have been in one orphanage after another for the last ten years, passed along like l
Paperback, 448 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Yearling (first published April 5th 2011)
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Lisa Dugan Yes, it's lots of adventure and a little heartache but nothing too hard to bear. Not nearly as dark as the Potter series gets as the books evolve. The…moreYes, it's lots of adventure and a little heartache but nothing too hard to bear. Not nearly as dark as the Potter series gets as the books evolve. The 2nd book is even more riveting than the first. Just beginning book 3, myself. (less)
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!!

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  20,520 ratings  ·  2,297 reviews

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Nov 08, 2010 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 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
Jul 06, 2011 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
Mike (the Paladin)
Okay...I'm 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
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 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
Aug 10, 2011 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 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: read-in-2011, fantasy
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
Sep 24, 2011 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
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
It took a few months but we made it! Me, my son and Katherine, Michael and Emma P. were shuttled between orphanages before finally ending up in Cambridge Falls under the care of the mysterious Dr. Pym and then straight into a fantastic adventure through dwarf kingdoms and lost cities and even time itself to find their destinies and learn the truth behind the disappearance of their parents.

If you're in the market for a great adventure fantasy to read aloud this one is perfect. My voice teachers
Sep 23, 2012 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, magic, fantasy
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
Jo Reads
Apr 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, ebook
The story is amazing and the characters also. When you read it, the impression is that it's all surrounded by magic. Can't wait to read The next !! ...more
Sheila Beaumont
I just finished rereading this delightful fantasy, the first in a middle-grade trilogy, before continuing on to the second and third books.

Like most really good books, this one was even better on rereading. Featuring three children who have been shunted from one orphanage to another for 10 years; a wise, kindly old wizard; lots of dwarves, who are the most amusing of the characters; and a truly evil countess/witch, the story calls to mind such fantasies as Narnia, LOTR, A Series of Unfortunate E
Dec 14, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Corinne Edwards
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 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
Adam Silvera
Totally enjoyed this one. The three main characters (Kate, Michael and Emma) are three children who are bouncing from orphanage to orphanage, insisting that they aren't to be called "orphans" because their parents aren't dead and will return to them, They hold onto this ten years later since their departure.

Kate was a great big sis, a remarkably strong character, and Emma was hilariously bold for such a young girl, but Michael was hands-down my favorite character with his belief in the fantasy
Jul 22, 2011 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. ...more
Cameron (LostInStories)
It was a decent story but I don't like books with time travel. ...more
Kellee Moye
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 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
Barb Middleton
Feb 13, 2012 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
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second read:
This book means a lot to me. Primarly because it was the first novel I read and the one who dragged me into reading. Re-reading it was awsome and quite different from the first time.
"You never read the same book twice" I found this quote odd and without sense but now it all comes to my mind.
From the first time I saw the book It has captivated me, in first place because of the cover (which is in my opinion much better the edition in spanish), then the plot was amazing, full of drama
Noah Pindak
4.5 Stars✨

This wonderful series is dear to my bookish heart. I've reread it multiple times since I first discovered it back in 2012, and was immediately obsessed with it before I ever got hooked on Harry Potter. I'm a Ravenclaw btw.😉

It's a spectacular introduction into a compelling world of interesting characters and backstories, where three books have the power of making and unmaking the world. And those mystical and mythic books are called the Books of Beginning. Unquestionably, the three main
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle grade readers
This is the first entry in The Books of Beginning series by John Stephens. The story is very dramatic, with a host of magical creatures and danger at every turn.

The three 'orphans' - Kate, Michael, and Emma - have the same older sister, middle brother, baby sister composition as the books featuring our favorite orphan siblings: A Series of Unfortunate Events.

The plot can be confusing, as the characters traveling back and forth through time and interacting with the same people, changing history
Diana Braxton
So glad I could still enjoy this re-reading this seven years later.
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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

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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