In celebration of Banned & Challenged Book Week, I'd like to take the opportunity to do a shameless plug for one of my favorite Banned & Challenged Books: The Golden Compass, the first book in Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.
Set in a highly-imaginative alternate world that is both similar to and very different from our own, The Golden Compass introduces readers to Lyra Belaqua, a very strong female character who is hungry for adventure. And adventure she gets! Lyra has happily lived all her life at Jordan College in Oxford, but then her uncle visits and brings with him some shocking news from a recent expedition to the North: Existing alongside Lyra's world are numerous other worlds (Lyra's uncle has even photographed one of them!). The reader is introduced to the concept of Dust, a mysterious celestial particle that effects grownups but not children (this is further fleshed out later in the series). Seemingly connected to this Dust has been the mysterious disappearance of several children. When Lyra's friend Roger is kidnapped, she sets out on a grand and dangerous adventure to find him.
Be prepared for talking armored polar bears, witches, magic, and shocking plot twists. The Golden Compass is not to be missed! --AJL