When I worked as a children’s bookseller, I steered kids away from fantasy for a simple reason: I thought I didn’t like the genre. Then came His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. The Golden Compass, the first in the series, blew me into fantasy land. Children are disappearing in 12 year old Lyra’s world. Scrappy Lyra, decides to solve the mystery and rescue them. That’s enough of the plot to start. But what I can tell you is that what drew me into to this parallel universe were the daemons. In this world, souls take the form of animal companions. Besides being help mates, they reflect one’s character. The diabolical Mrs. Coulter, Lyra’s mother, has a vicious golden monkey. Lyra’s on again off again father has a snow leopard for his daemon. If you want to go somewhere else, this is the series for you. I’d recommend it for good upper elementary readers and above, and of course, us.