I've been reading a new series -- well, new to me: The Lost Years of Merlin, by T. A. Barron. I don't know how many books there are in the series, but I've read Book One (of the same title as the series) and Book Two, The Seven Songs of Merlin. Both are wonderful reads, but I especially like book two because of the seven deep insights that unfold as Merlin unravels the meaning of the seven songs. The book is multilayered, and I can imagine tweens discovering it, then rereading it through young adulthood and full adulthood (if any of us ever really achieve the latter).
Each book is a quest, and each book ends with Merlin on the verge of a new quest. While danger-laden adventures and obstacles pile up from chapter to chapter, Merlin grows in wisdom as he meets each new challenge. Merlin's journey is a journey that takes him both inward and outward and adds to his growing stature as he deals with problems his own flaws have caused. Thus, he's a character young people can identify with. And his example of redeeming his mistakes and wrestling with his own flaws offers hope to anyone who has ever suffered the angst of adolescence.
It's a lovely series. While it's a little late to suggest it as a Christmas gift for this year, it will be just as relevant to young readers next year, so look for it and shop early!
Meanwhile, in the Varadan household, the tree is finally up, the cards sent, the loaves baked, the presents wrapped. Merry Christmas to all.