A Tuesday Ten: Magical Gateways
Posted by Stephanie Whelan
Between updating the stuff in the headings and a massive amount of running around last week, the blog fell behind a bit! Here’s my Tuesday Ten on Magic Gateways/portals to other realms. There was one main requisite with this list and that was that the portals/doorways etc. were a fixed place or thing. Random doorways or gateways don’t count.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis (Collier Books, c1950)
Possibly the most classic portal fantasy object in literature, it’s even mentioned in the title and has inspired countless readers to search their own closets and wardrobes for a way into Narnia. The wardrobe in the story intermittently becomes a gateway to the magical world of Narnia for the Pevensie children in this first story. Lucy is the first who discovers that there’s no back to the wardrobe and how the coats become trees, and that leads onto a snowy landscape with a streetlamp glowing in the middle of the forest. (If you read The Magician’s Nephew, you discover the origins of the wardrobe and the streetlamp both.
The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop (Yearling c1985)
William’s toy castle he finds in the attic is magical. When he picks up the tiny knight, it comes to life in his hands and starts telling him stories of the kingdom. The castle itself becomes a portal through which William himself can travel back in time to the real-life world of the castle. Time travel portals are probably the most common place sorts of magical portals you see in children’s literature.
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll (Books of Wonder, c1871)
While the rabbit hole is also a great example of a portal, who hasn’t seen a mirror and imagined there was a world on the other side? Alice’s wild journey through the looking glass itself has captured the imagination in literature ever since with many mirrors acting as portals to elsewhere–often strange and dangerous elsewheres!
Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu (Katherine Tegen Books, 2015)
Priscilla and her three sisters have discovered that the closets in their home lead to fantastic places and things–secret sanctuaries from their increasingly uncertain life where they struggle to get through from day to day. But though these portals offer hope and magic to the sisters–it may not be the answer to solving their problems and bringing the family closer together.
Milo Speck, Accidental Agent by Linda Urban (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015)
In this humorous fantasy adventure, Milo goes to retrieve laundry from the dryer only to be snatched up and through a portal within the dryer! He finds himself in the world of Ogregon, where boys are a tasty snack for hungry ogres. Milo will have to use his wits to escape and find out how to put a stop to the whole operation!
Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd (Purple House Press, c1963)
Susan is a girl growing up in 1960s New York City, utterly dissatisfied with life as she knows it. Then when she lends a mysterious woman a helping hand, she’s granted three magical journeys on an old elevator. The elevator takes Susan back in time , to 1881 where Susan finds life much more what she wishes it could be. But can she find a way to make it hers permanently?
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins, c2002)
The 14th door in the rambling house where Coraline lives with her two distracted parents is indeed a magical gateway. But the world beyond it isn’t necessarily one it’s good to go explore. A twisted reflection of this world, what starts out being a marvelous adventure for Coraline soon turns dark indeed. Can she escape home again?
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende (Dutton Children’s Books, c1979)
The world over we know that books are portals into other worlds . . . but in the Neverending story the book truly is a portal. The book leads Bastian on an amazing adventure with Atreyu in a quest to stop the Nothing from swallowing the land of Fantastica. But it is Bastian who truly holds the key to saving their world, and to do so he must be brought into the story, through the book and into the world. From there he will venture on his own quest . . . but will he make it home again? This is a bit different from the movie version, so be prepared!
The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson (Puffin, c1994)
We all know about the platform for wizards in the London subway that was popularized in Harry Potter, but there was an earlier one. Platform 13 at King’s Cross Station has a magical portal that opens once every 9 years for 9 days. Nine years ago the prince of a magical kingdom was kidnapped and taken through the portal as a babe into the human world. Now denizens of the magical realm prepare to cross through the portal and find their missing prince before the nine days are up!
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (Greenwillow Books, c1986)
In this case the portal is one created by the Wizard Howl. It’s attached to the door of his castle and is activated by turning a knob to different colors for different places. Most of those places are other places in the same world. But one leads to a version of Britain that seems to be close to our own, and appears to be the original world that Howl is from.
So there are my portals. Please share some of your own!
About Stephanie WhelanI'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.
Posted on September 25, 2016, in General Posts, Lists and tagged Authors, Books, Children's Books, Children's Literature, fantasy, kidlit, Lists, literature, MG Books, Middle-Grade Fiction, Reading, sequels, series, Urban Fantasy. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.