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The Doldrums

(The Doldrums #1)

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,795 ratings  ·  536 reviews
Archer B. Helmsley has grown up in a house full of oddities and treasures collected by his grandparents, the famous explorers. He knows every nook and cranny. He knows them all too well. After all, ever since his grandparents went missing on an iceberg, his mother barely lets him leave the house.

Archer longs for adventure. Grand adventures, with parachutes and exotic sunse
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published September 29th 2015 by Greenwillow Books
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KathyC My 11 yr old daughter is reading it now; she had to wait to start it until she had completed some school required reading...and she cannot put it down…moreMy 11 yr old daughter is reading it now; she had to wait to start it until she had completed some school required reading...and she cannot put it down! I told her she would love it...which is usually the death knell for anything!! :) But she LOVES it!!(less)
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) They've been stuffed. At one time they were alive, now they're "specimens." One of the animals finally tells Archer, "It's you, talking to yourself." …moreThey've been stuffed. At one time they were alive, now they're "specimens." One of the animals finally tells Archer, "It's you, talking to yourself." He talks to the animals because he never leaves the house.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,795 ratings  ·  536 reviews

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Jesse (JesseTheReader)
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Video Review:
THIS WAS SO GREAT. Such a unique and interesting story and I want MORE. I mean, is this a series? TELL ME THIS IS A SERIES. I want to know more about the grandparent's and their strange society. I also just want another adventure with Archer, Oliver, and Adelaide. AND THE ILLUSTRATIONS, OH MAN, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL. If you're looking for an exciting, mysterious, and fun middle grade book, check this one out! Highly recommend.
Spoilers? If you can even be spoiled for a book where (spoiler alert) very little happens and nothing is revealed.

I am editing this review to say the following: After a friend of mine read this book and found the same problems I did, I went to research the deal on Publishers Marketplace and was appalled to find out that this was sold in a major two-book deal. That's at least $500k. For one book that is just a vague prologue, really, and for another that I will definitely not be reading because t
Suad Shamma
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, own, 2015
This is the most wonderful book I've read in the past few months! I did not imagine I would be as consumed as I was with it, but not only is it a beautiful book to own and to look at, it is also a great story put together by the extremely talented Nicholas Gannon.

The story involves eleven year old Archer Helmsley, whose family knew he was a dreamer from the day he was born, not unlike his grandparents, Ralph and Rachel Helmsley, who are very well-known explorers. His parents are more grounded i
Belles Middle Grade Library
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely LOVED THIS BOOK!! It definitely received a big book hug when I finished lol This is a book for dreamers. I loved Archer so much! I also felt so bad for him. He was basically a prisoner in his own home-all for being a dreamer! His mom thought he showed “tendencies” that led her to believe he would be like his adventurous grandparents-& she didn’t like that. So he wasn’t allowed out of the house except for school! I despised his mom! I like his dad, but at the same time-stand up to yo ...more
Amy Martin
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
Well, the title's not wrong ...more
Ashley DiNorcia
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-mg
rachel ☾
The Doldrums made empty on its promise of being a whimsical adventure story. Despite being over 400 pages, barely anything happened. Both the nonexistent plot and writing style were so drab and lifeless, I was tempted to DNF it multiple times. The majority of the characters, including our protagonist, Archer, had little personality; even Mrs Murkley felt like a copy-and-paste Aunt Marge, rather than her own fleshed-out antagonist. The only exception was Archer's friend, Oliver. He was my smol ra ...more
M. Lauritano
Jun 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
I was originally considering rating this one two stars, but the abundance of fawning, slavish five star reviews ignited an incandescent author-illustrator rage that demanded a one star review. That, and upon reflection, The Doldrums committed the worst creative crime of them all: utter mediocrity. Yes, there is not much that is especially objectionable about this book, but there is also almost nothing to praise either. If you are Nicholas Gannon and you are about to read this, I am sorry in adva ...more
Jay Kennedy
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My video review:

The Doldrums is Nicholas Gannon’s debut novel, published in September of 2015. Now not only did he write this charming book, but he also illustrated all of the whimsical illustrations within it. And I have to say, the art style is PERFECT for a middle-grade book.
The Doldrums

But illustrations aside, let’s talk about the story.

Archer Helmsley was a dreamer ever since he was born. Archer is grandson to renowned explorers Ralph and Rachel Helmsley, and he look
N.A. Cauldron
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Many books have what I call the "cookie cutter mentality". A rampantly cliche requirement by modern publishers to start off in an action scene with the main character. I hate books like that. I want to get to know my character first. This? This is NOT one of those books. I never thought I would say this, but I mean that in a bad way.

This book went on and on and on ... about nothing. I was 22% of the way through, a book about a kid in, ya know I really don't know, and I realized: there is no stor
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ahhh, I loved this book. It's a book for all the dreamers who ever argued with a doer that without dreams what is there to do? I had this argument in a writing class in high school, I'm not sure what that particular doer was doing in a writing class, but that's another discussion.

This book was also a great example of why I love children's literature. It strips away all the extravagances that adult writing insists on and gets down to a good story with characters who are you or were you, at least
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
This was so so so so perfect. I loved this book so so so so so much.
This won't be a proper review but I will say..
This book gave me all the feelings!
And that ending though.. the best ending ever.
Can't wait for book 2!!
A million stars out of 5.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Well the title says it all....the doldrums are when the winds don't blow and a ship can't get to where it's going....nothing happens......precisely. One star! At least the title is appropriate. ...more
Dec 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: juv
Full color art can't quite save this dull story that feels too simplistic for its intended audience. Archer lives a boring life in a peculiar old house with a mean-spirited mother; he has never met his explorer grandparents but receives secret packages from them until the news arrives that they have been presumed dead on an iceberg. Archer longs to be an explorer in his own right, and spends most of the book in this state. The reveal about his grandparents isn't even that exciting, and the adult ...more
Wendy Darling
Recommended by Brooks as Wes Anderson-inspired MG.
Lilli Gilliam
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I enjoyed this book very much. The illustrations were just magical. The story itself was a little too slow for me. And the actual plot was a little off. The ending was abrupt, which didn't answer any of my questions. I was expecting a lot from this book, considering how good the description was and some of Goodread's reviews!

I have to say, I loved all the characters, especially Mrs. Murkley! I found some parts of this book to be amusing.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I had some min
Dec 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
I would like to try to leave a constructive review, but this book continually made me more and more angry as I kept going and NOTHING HAPPENED. I so badly wanted the adventure that is promised and never delivered.

This book would be a good read for a voracious reader who consumes a lot of books each week and wouldn't be bothered by something so dull. However, this will be poison for a reluctant reader. I guarantee it. A child who "doesn't like reading" will take this as further proof that "books
Vikki VanSickle
This is a very classic middle grade story about friendship masquerading as an adventure story. That isn't to say that there isn't adventure in this delightful tale- there is lots of mystery, calamitous situations, mysterious trunks, encounters with odd strangers, etc. In a way the book demonstrates how anything can turn into an adventure when you're with friends. Archer, Oliver and Adelaide don't even realize how lonely they are until they find each other. Gannon has an assured, sensitive narrat ...more
If Wes Anderson ever wrote a twee middle-grade book, this would be it.
The Royal Tenenbaums 43797

Archer Helmsley's famous explorer grandparents have been missing his entire life, but they are really missing now -- adrift on an iceberg, in fact. Despite his house being full of testaments to adventure courtesy of its former owners (the missing grandparents), Archer leads a very sheltered life thanks to his mother. That is, until he meets Oliver Glub, his shy neighbour, and the mysterious new girl across the garden, Adel
Jeana Laurie
Oct 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Absolutely beautiful writing and illustrations!

This story takes you to a unique and charming world that totally captivates. The writing flows so easily that I found myself reaching for chapter after chapter as the hours melted away. And the characters themselves were rich and well defined. The harmony the three main characters share though is absolutely touching. This story is a real comfort to gently savor.

This is book one and both in terms of where the plot leaves you and the overall experienc
Oct 07, 2015 added it
It was a little too Harry-Ron-and-Hermione for my taste, and all the adult characters were, at best, unsympathetic. The mothers, of course, are evil and fathers benignly out to lunch.

But I enjoyed the clever dialogue and lovely illustrations, and would be willing to read the next—obviously there will be a next one, presumably this will be a trilogy—but I'm not dying for it to come out.

Edited to add: Oh, wait! There was one mother, Oliver's, the Mrs. Weasley character, who was not evil. She bake
Katie Ruth
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Delightful and laugh out loud funny! Now onto the sequel!
Sara the Librarian
It strikes me as slightly paradoxical to enthusiastically praise the wild misadventure and daring do of a book called The Doldrums but the quite frankly brilliant Mr. Nicholas Gannon is forcing me to do just that.

This utterly charming book kept me and my seven year old son fully engrossed for weeks of bedtime reading. The misadventures of Archer Helmsley and his friends Oliver (who's father runs the titular "Doldrums Press") and recent arrival Adelaide have almost a dream like quality to them. T
Michael Fitzgerald
I was quite disappointed in how this book turned out. It shares some qualities with The Mysterious Benedict Society, also The Bad Beginning, a bit of Matilda, maybe some Raskin like The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon, maybe Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (perhaps just for the escape to a museum), and for some reason I initially was reminded of The Phantom Tollbooth, but we spend literally 5/6 of the book (audio) on preamble and then the actual real action is ...more
Mark Wilkerson
Aug 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Nicholas Gannon is one author worth watching! This book, his debut, is perfect for kids with an eye for adventure and for fans of Roald Dahl. They will enjoy the misadventures of the three protagonists of this story as they face-off against cruel schoolteachers, unaware parents, and other adults who just get in the way of kids having fun. They will be able to relate with one or more of the kids in this story, who all have something that sets them apart from their peers (even if they are not trul ...more
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like the writing style, I like the characters but sadly nothing really happened in this book. You've got this promise of big adventure and all, and at this end of the book you keep waiting for it to happened.
So a lot of great idea but sadly not a lot of action
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
Review: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Archer Helmsley wants to have big adventures like his grandparents - famous explorers who went missing in Antarctica when Archer was 9. But Archer’s mum barely lets him leave the house, so he’s forced to devise a plan in secret with his two friends, Oliver and Adélaïde, to rescue his grandparents.

I’ve owned this for a while now but finally decided to pick it up as a light, fun book to read amongst exam study. I was not disappointed! This middle-grade novel is such a fast, enjoyab
This was a pretty fun book.

'The Doldrums' follows Archer, a boy who has always been curious about most things. Ever since he heard about the disappearance of about his "famous explorers" grandparents, he has a feeling that there is more to being a Helmsley than sitting at home. Follow Archer and his friends as they come together with a plan to escape their homes and seek adventure elsewhere.

Keeping in mind the intended audience for this book, I think readers who enjoy the genre would find the
Laura (bbliophile)
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I definitely didn't expect to like this as much as I did, and I dove straight into the second book after finishing this one. If you're in need of a fun middle great, I'd definitely go for this one. It has so many great elements, from the main character's grandparents being famous explorers and him desperately trying to go on an adventure, but it all going a bit (or a lot) differently than planned, to the amazing friendship and characters. Reading this made me incredibly happy. ...more
Stefanny Natalia
Jan 01, 2022 rated it really liked it

Actually the story little bit out of my expetations, but it's not in the bad way. I really like the illustrations in this book.
I also like the friendship of Archer,Oliver and Adelaide. It remains me of Harry,Ron and Hermione 😂
And yes the vibe of this book remains me of Unfortunate Events series and The Mysterious Benedict Society.
It's a bit slow pace but also chill, fun and you'll also get a little light humor inside.
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