1. Kate, Michael, and Emma are the heroes of the series. They've been sent from orphanage to orphanage, believing that the parents that abandoned them would never come back for them. And yet, despite - or because of - that, they cling to each other with ferocity. Their love for each other is what gives these books their heart.
2. Just because they love each other doesn't mean they always get along. John Stephens perfectly captures sibling interactions (maybe he stole these from his own kids?). The dialogue between the siblings seem so authentic.
3. Plot twists like you wouldn't believe. When you add time travel and magic to the mix, anything can happen.
4. There are three siblings and three books - each character gets a chance to shine in their own book, but the plots are entwined throughout the series.
5. It's an extremely satisfying series. I just read the third book in the trilogy, which is what prompted me to write this post (I reviewed the first book when I read it a couple of years ago). This is a series that will not let you down. I'm not saying it won't make you cry. I'm just saying the author did a good job of upholding the integrity of the series.
6. These books are funny. Elves and dwarves and their rivalries provide comic relief, as do the siblings' interactions and teasing. I laughed out loud more than once. This alone could hook any middle grade reader, and it certainly hooked me.
Even though I teach fourth grade, I really don't read much middle grade fiction. But this was a series I could not put down and I could not forget about. I couldn't wait for the third book to be released this year, and I devoured it as soon as I could. If you like Narnia or The Hobbit or Harry Potter - or if you would just like to meet some really great kids - then you should most definitely read The Books of Beginning by John Stephens!