Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Portal Magic

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blogging initiative hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl with new themes each week.

This weeks theme is a Genre Freebie meaning I can pick anything around a genre or trope within a genre.

I thought I would go with Portal Magic in fantasy? Portal Magic fantasies are classic of the stories that feature contemporary (or historical) children who wander into a magical world by accident or design.

The most classic of course would be The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, but there are plenty of other examples, one could even take Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass as they both have an idea of travelling between the mundane world and one of wonder.

I’ve collected here some Middle Grade and some Young Fiction Portal Magic fantasies to show the range of imagination that is being explored in this genre by incredible children’s writers.

A Fantasy Adventure world Through a fold up bed- The Land of Roar– Jenny McLachlan illustrated by Ben Mantle

Arthur revisits the world of he and his sister’s childhood imagination when their nemesis Crowky snatches their grandfather through the portal to a world broken and dying as the children are losing their imagination. Can he and his sister put their tween rift aside and work together to save Grandad from being stuffed?

This has bonus illustrations throughout by Ben Mantle which add much fun to the story, and also establish how creepy Crowky is!!

An Alternative Monster filled London frozen in time- The Midnight Hour Benjamin Read and Laura Trinder

The Midnight Hour

OI BOOKFACES! Emily’s parents have disappeared into the Midnight Hour a world home to magic and monsters and she must save both worlds armed with only sandwiches, a hedgehog in her pocket and a rather gobby mouth.

A Magical World accessed up a chimney- The Unicorn Quest -Kamilla Benko

the unicorn quest

Claire’s sister Sophie has been suffering with a mysterious illness which prompts a move to the ancestral home where the girls find a mysterious land located up the chimney, facing danger the girls escape home and decide to never return. Over time Sophie becomes increasingly distant until suddenly she disappears, and Claire realises that there is only one place to find her.

A World of Fairies and Birds accessed through an enchanted colouring book; The Magical Kingdom of Birds – Anne Booth illustrated by Rosie Butcher

This quest narrative series walks the line between early chapter and Young MG with its tale of Maya who has inherited a magical colouring book that whisks her away into a world battling with a Usurper Lord as Princess Willow has to recreate a magical cloak of feathers to win back the kingdom from her wicked uncle. Maya, Willow and a magpie called Patch must solve a problem in each book to gain the loyalty of a type of bird to earn the feather to add to cloak.

This is one of Littlefae’s most beloved of faevorite series and I think it wonderful too especially for the fact it is a very rare thing in children’s literature in that Maya has physical disabilities- she cannot walk without assistance (stick and occasional wheelchair) but her disability is not overcome by magic, instead they problem solve ways to work with and around her limitations.

An Alternative world of witches and shapeshifters accessed by crossing a river into the woods Begone the Raggedy Witches – Celine Kiernan

begone the raggedy witches

Before Mup’s Great Aunty died she would give strange warnings to beware Raggedy Witches, and as they drive home from the hospital Mup sees strange figures in the night sky coming for her Mam, but they snatch her dad instead. Little does she know that her mother fled a besieged magical world, crossing realms to safety, but now they must cross over to save her dad from the Queen of Witches.

Riding the Rusty moped of Infinity to strange worlds- The Cosmic Atlas of Alfie Fleet– Martin Howard illustrated by Chris Mould

Alfie just wants to get his mum a foot spa for her birthday, so when he sees an advert for quick money he never imagines he will find himself halfway across the universe battling dragons and terrifying pub landlords and a terrifying girl called Derek as he notes his adventures in a Hitchhikers meets Discworld meets Lonely Planet travel guide.

Books open a magical world to the stories within- The Dragon in the Library– Louie Stowell illustrated by Davide Ortu

Kit doesn’t like reading, she likes getting muddy and finding bugs, books are boring in comparison, until she finds out a secret, she has the skills of a librarian who are secretly a union of magicians casting spells, keeping secret dragons safe and are able to enter books by magic, exploring the worlds within or using them to travel between places that own that book.

This is a great young fiction contemporary fantasy series for challenging both gender and protagonist expectations and is lovingly illustrated by Davide Ortu.

Candles capture and recreate time and place- The Stormkeeper’s Island- Catherine Doyle

This is a truly stunning series absolutely crackling with ancient magic and mythology set on the Irish island of Arranmore where Stormkeepers are chosen by the island to capture time and weather in candles keeping watch until one shall be chosen to face the greatest threat to the world, the awakening of the Morrigan. The portal magic happens when the candles are lit and the Stormkeeper can visit that time and learn why it was recorded.

Fionn discovers his grandfather has secrets when they are sent to stay whilst his mother recovers from a breakdown. Not only is he the Stormkeeper, and discovers the power of the candles, but his grandfather’s time is coming to an end, and a new Stormkeeper shall rise, and soon would be good as Morrigan’s followers are gathering.

This time the magical world comes to us- The Other Alice– Michelle Harrison

I liked the idea of including this as most portal fantasies take us to other worlds or time, this one brings the fantastical into our world as Midge’s sister unravels her imagination from the page and into this world setting free something truly terrible along with characters she has created.

Michelle Harrison’s writing is outstandingly brilliant, and this is just deeply wonderful with its bohemian feel and earthy magic with whispers of ink blossomed imagination come to life.

Bonus: A character who can open different portals with his fingertips – Skeleton Keys -Guy Bass and Pete Williamson

Skeleton Keys was an Imaginary friend, a skeleton but instead of bones for fingers, he has keys that open different realms whether of the past, across time, between spaces or to places that no one should ever go. One day he was imagined so hard he became real or Unimaginary, and he spends his days keeping the balance between the real, the Imaginary and the Unimaginary.

This illustrated series from the duo behind StitchHead is remarkably brilliant, wildly entertaining and rapidly becoming one of the girls’ favourite series!

What did you pick for this prompt?

13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Portal Magic

  1. Great take on the freebie! I don’t read a lot of MG or children’s fiction but honestly, if I saw these in the bookstore I’d be hard pressed to pass them by because the covers are SO PRETTY 😍I’m a total sucker for MG book covers! They’re always so awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The illustrators do amazing work and if you do you will find the books are so brilliantly written, I think they are definitely underestimated for how wonderful they can be!


    1. Thank you! These are all wonderful in different ways which I particularly love about them, they take the kernel of portal magic and stretch it into different interpretations 💜


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