Plot: Eleven year old Lyra Belacqua lives at the Jordan College surrounded by scholars and with occasional visits from her Uncle Lord Asriel. In Lyra’s world everyone has a daemon, which is their spirit in animal form, her daemon is named Pantalaimon (Pan). One day children start going missing from town, they are being taken by the Gobblers. Lyra overhears her uncle talking about a mysterious substance called Dust in the north, she stores the information for later use. Later that day, Mrs. Coulter visits the college and promises to take Lyra on a trip to the north. Before leaving with Mrs. Coulter one of the Scholars gives Lyra a golden compass with weird symbols all the way around the face. Mrs. Coulter takes Lyra to her home, where she discovers who the Gobblers are and that they have her best friend.
Review: This is the first book in the Northern Lights trilogy. Lyra learns about Dust, a mysterious substance dealing with a person’s daemon, up in the northern country. She gains a golden compass that will allow her to see into the future. Lyra discovers that Mrs. Coulter is behind the kidnappings and are bringing children to a facility in the north to separate them from their daemons. Throughout her adventures, Lyra is resourceful enough to find a way to fight for her friend and rescue him. Pullman artfully intertwines Lyra’s world with ours to create a beautiful, magical world all his own. Lyra and Pan share a bond unlike any other where Pan is a constant companion and occasional conscience for Lyra. Look for the sequels The Silver Knife and The Amber Spyglass, equally as good.
Reading Level/Interest Level: 6.7/10+
Similar Materials: The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
Reader’s Advisory: This is a great book for children to read, they will be enthralled by Pullman’s world and the various characters they will meet. Lyra is formidable and resourceful with an originality all her own. Sequels include The Silver Knife and The Amber Spyglass. The adventure never ends. Highly recommended.