Sonderbooks Book Review of Firebirds

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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
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*****Firebirds

edited by Sharyn November

Reviewed December 20, 2003.
Firebird (Penguin USA), New York, 2003.  421 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF FIR).
A Sonderbooks’ Stand-out of 2003:  #1, Short Story Collections 

It’s not often that I start a short story collection and get excited simply by reading the introduction.  Sharyn November writes:

“I had been working with teenagers in the schools and online since 1996.  The more teens I polled (thousands!) and talked to, the more I realized one thing:  some of my best and most voracious readers loved fantasy and science fiction.  They were going into the adult genre section to find new authors and books, and they couldn’t wait to tell me about them.  They had really become readers for life—this doesn’t happen with everyone, and when it does, it’s wonderful.  These middle and high school students were going to mature into adults who read fantasy and sf—I knew some of those adults, and they consistently talked about what they’d read at twelve, thirteen and onward.  They bought and re-read those books, too.  They were touchstones.”

She goes on to write how this idea crystallized into the beginning of the Firebird imprint in January 2002.  They are bringing back into print wonderful classics as well as discovering new authors.  A list of the books they have already published appears at the front of this book.  There are so many of my favorites!  The ones I have reviewed already are The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley; Enchantress from the Stars, by Sylvia Engdahl; The Changeling Sea, by Patricia A. McKillip; Wolf Queen, by Tanith Lee; and Interstellar Pig, by William Sleator. The list also includes many others of my favorite authors—more by Robin McKinley, Lloyd Alexander, Nancy Farmer, David Clement-Davies, Peter Dickinson, and Elizabeth E. Wein.  The ones on the list that I have read are so outstanding, I very much want to read the rest.

The short stories in Firebirds are all written by people connected with Firebird Books.  They are wonderful.  I wasn’t a bit surprised to love the stories by Megan Whalen Turner, Patricia A. McKillip, Elizabeth E. Wein, Diana Wynne Jones, and Nancy Farmer.  I was delighted to discover new authors whose books I simply have to try—especially Sherwood Smith, Nancy Springer, Meredith Ann Pierce, Kara Dalkey, and Nina Kiriki Hoffman.  Even the stories that weren’t my favorites were still excellent.

I don’t usually choose books based on the publisher, but I’m definitely going to be on the lookout for books put out by Firebird, to order for the library.  Usually, being able to order books for the library means that I can resist spending so much of my own money on books.  This book, however, proved to be very dangerous.  Not only do I mean to get my own copy, it told me about many more authors whose books I now want to read.  My Amazon wish list grew dramatically while I was reading this book!

Expect to hear about more books from this imprint, as well as more authors from this anthology.  Meanwhile, you can enjoy this delightful collection of fantasy stories, written by some of the best writers in the business.

Review of another Firebirds anthology:
Firebirds Soaring

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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