Foundational Books: The Ancient One by T.A. Barron

Good afternoon, squiders! Today we’ll discuss The Ancient One by T.A. Barron.

(To be fair, we’ve discussed before. It was part of our Adventures of Kate readalong in 2016.)

My middle school had a program where they’d pick a local children’s author, and we’d all have to read a book by said author, and then said author would come to our school and talk about the book/writing/whatever else they felt was appropriate. In seventh grade, that book was The Ancient One by T.A. Barron.

(In eighth grade, the author was Will Hobbs, and we didn’t have to read a specific book, but by that point I’d read enough Will Hobbs to know that I didn’t want to read any more books about boys–always boys–surviving alone in the wild, so I was pretty over the whole experience.)

(My middle school was only seventh and eighth grades, thankfully.)

As I noted in the readalong discussion post, The Ancient One is part time travel fantasy, part pro-environment manifesto. And for some reason, it resonated extremely strongly with me, and may be the reason forests feature so heavily in my own writing.

This was my first exposure to T.A. Barron, and I went on to read the other two Kate books, as well as several of his young Merlin adventures.

It’s not my first foray into fantasy (that was The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, which I read in sixth grade the year before) but it was pretty early. And it kind of cemented the genre in my mind as something I liked and should read copious amounts of.

(I was reading a lot more science fiction prior to this, since that’s what my parents were into, as well as the standard reading lists we read in school, which mostly consisted of historical fiction and other depressing stories, offset by your occasional more upbeat thing like Maniac McGee.)

The book held up pretty well when we re-read it for the readalong, and I can definitely still see the things that drew me in the first time through.

(Plus I remember T.A. Barron being pretty awesome when he came for the talk, so that’s a bonus.)

Thoughts on The Ancient One or T.A. Barron, squiders? Favorite or first fantasy book you read that drew you into the genre?

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