I first read Julie of the Wolves in elementary school. It wasn’t a grand adventure with magic and princes, but it did take place in a faraway land with creatures that were both familiar yet utterly fascinating. I dreamed that I was Julie, oppressed by by society’s standards, taking off to find my own path, befriending and living among wolves that were far more accepting than any human friend I’d ever had.
I didn’t discover the sequel novels until several years later, and I was so incredibly happy to find out that Julie’s adventures with the wolves continued! Julie and Julie’s Wolf Pack not only continue Julie’s story, they follow several generations of wolves as they are born, mature, and join packs of their own.
I really doubt that many young readers are into this particular series anymore, but I know there are a lot of adults who still cherish the memories they have of Julie and her wolves.
What can I really say about Island of the Blue Dolphins that hasn’t yet been said by so many? I should have read it in elementary school, but I didn’t pick it up until a summer vacation in late high school when I was scrounging around the piles of books in my house, searching desperately for something I hadn’t read yet.
I was transported to a faraway island where a girl lived her own simple life, true to herself and in love with the ocean. I was swept up in her efforts to follow her heart, to save her home, and stay true to herself and her people.
I read the book several times that summer, and although I haven’t picked it up since I still have that same copy proudly displayed on my bookshelf.
Jane Yolen wrote so many of my favorite childhood novels, including the Great Alta series and the Pit Dragon series. The former includes Sister Light, Sister Dark and White Jenna, which are accompanied by the third novel published much later, The One-Armed Queen.
These stories are deep with mythological meaning and cultural analyses, though I didn’t realize it as a teen. Jenna lives in a fantasy world filled with magic and mysticism. When her home is attacked she forces the wheel of fate to turn by drawing her shadow sister from the mirror world far earlier than anyone else – thus fulfilling a prophecy that has been told about her for generations. Jenna and Skada are amazing protagonists that I really enjoyed following through their fantastic adventures, prophecy-fulfilling quests, and coming-of-age escapades.
The other series by Jane Yolen was one that I discovered by chance in my high school library. I first picked up Dragon’s Blood because, well, there was a dragon on the cover. I loved dragons, and fantasy, and magic, and this book seemed to have all of that! It was so much more than I had expected.
The protagonist, Jakkin, is a lowly servant who unexpectedly bonds with a dragon he cares for – a dragon whose sole purpose is to fight. Dragons are raised to fight each other in pits simply for sport. The connection between Jakkin and the dragons is so intense, so real, and remarkably painful. Jakkin and his friend do everything they can to free any dragons they can, setting off a chain of events that changes their whole lives.
Are any of these books you read as a kid or teenager? Do you still enjoy reading them as an adult? And check out some more of my favorite childhood books below!
- book review
- classic teen books
- classic ya books
- dragon books
- favorite teen books
- Great Alta
- island of the blue dolphins
- Jane Yolen
- jean craighead george
- julie of the wolves
- julie's wolf pack
- nostalgic books
- old teen books
- pit dragon
- scott o'dell
- t.a. barron
- teen dragon books
- teen librarian
- White Jenna
- words of stone
- YA book reviews