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On Thin Ice

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  115 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Ked Eakins is about to lose everything.

He's just discovered that his dad has gambled away their rent money. They're going to get kicked out of their home.

But Ked is determined to fight back. He hatches a plan to save their apartment by rebuilding a vintage minibike in his school's maker space, which he'll sell for a profit.

Still, the plan is a gamble of his own: Going to m
Published July 30th 2019 by Scholastic
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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Ms. Yingling
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing

Northrop, Michael. On Thin Ice

July 30th 2019 by Scholastic

E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Ked Eakins lives in the small town of Norton, where the major manufacturing plants are seeing hard times. His father only works part time, and his mother has left the family because of the father's gambling. To make matters worse, there is no longer his mother's health insurance to help Ked deal with his worsening kyphosis that is progressively ruining his posture. He deals with it by wearing baggy shirts,
*Review is of an advanced reader copy

The story of Ked Eakins, a young boy plagued by adversity: a rare spinal condition, a mother who skipped town, a father gambling away their rent money, a towering school bully, and less than friendly classmates. If this sounds like a lot, it is. Fortunately, Ked (was he named after the shoe?) is a plucky character, determined to keep a roof above his head via the rebuilding of an minibike which he plans to sell for profit. Not bearing the XY chromosome I have
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ked’s story, though very specific in its use of the rare medical condition kyphosis and a host of family issues, will speak to many readers through its themes of family, friendship, and struggling to fit in. The conversational text employs authentic dialog and pop culture references, such as Star Wars and superheroes, that will appeal to middle grade readers; using a first-person narrative structure gives kids a window into what it’s like to be shunned by the majority of your classmates for a ph ...more
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
I thought this was a well-written and fast paced middle grade novel that dealt with some difficult topics (physical differences, gambling, homelessness, abuse). I've seen some complaints about it being too mechanical in regards to the tinkering with the motorbike, but I don't think those chapters detracted from the overall story at all.
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
When you think of “thin ice”, what thoughts come to mind? I think of a cold uncomfortable rough situation. I believe the author chose “Thin Ice” as the title of this story because it represents the struggles of the main character Ked. It symbolizes the difficulties Ked is going through like being behind on rent and having no one to talk to. This book shows perseverance when Ked is having a hard time in his life. This book also shows how little things can have big impacts like the hump that grew ...more
Donna Dobihal Smith
A hard but compelling read, the protagonist is going though a tough time and the author does not white wash the situation: bullying, gambling, separated parents, and a rare disorder that would be embarrassing for anyone let alone someone in middle school. Told with sensitivity, this well written novel will not disappoint readers who like books by this author as well as those tackling difficult issues. Highly recommended.
Life hasn't exactly been a picnic for Ked Eakins in Norton, Maine. Not only has he watched his friends leave him, one by one, due to their awareness of his physical differences, caused by kyphosis, a spinal abnormality that leaves him almost with a hunched back, but his mother has abandoned the family to move to Portland, Oregon, for a new life. To add insult to injury, Ked discovers that his father's gambling addiction is out of control, and they don't have the money for the current month's ren ...more
Ked Eakins aka Freakins just lost his last lunch buddy. He knows it's because of his spinal deformity, which is getting worse. When he finds out that his dad is months behind on rent and counting on a bet to be able to pay up, Ked takes matters into his own hands and steals money from his dad to buy a Road Rokkit minibike that he plans to fix up and sell. He can use the school's makerspace to fix it - if he can survive the bullies and the mean goth girl and awkward encounters with one of his old ...more
Valerie McEnroe
This is my first Michael Northrop book. If his others are like this one, I'll probably check out some of his previous titles. This was an interesting read. Some themes, like the bully and dysfunctional family, have become commonplace in middle grade books, but he throws in some new and interesting twists.

Ked has a progressive physical deformity. His spine is curving and he looks like Quasimodo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame. It's seriously affecting his social life. One by one his friends are
Sally Kruger
Ked Eakins is known by most at his middle school as Freak. Although he has gotten used to it, it still hurts, and now that his best friends seem to have abandoned him for the more popular people, it's pretty hard to handle.

School isn't Ked's only challenge. Shortly after he was diagnosed with kyphosis, a condition that is deforming his spine, his mother left. Now Ked lives with his dad in a crappy second floor apartment. They are about to lose their crappy home because of Ked's dad's gambling h
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Ked Eakins is dreading middle school. It's not just that his home life has changed dramatically, either. School is suddenly no longer a safe haven, his former best friends have abandoned him, and his dad has gambled away their rent. In addition, Ked has been living with a rare spinal deformation that he feels is making him social repellent in addition to the school bully's favorite target. On Thin Ice is told in a witty but honest first person narrative. Although the main themes are not new to ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
This new book by Michael Northrop is good in a lot of ways. It has a child with a disability that is often not represented and plays to the kids who are mechanically inclined. I just found it a difficult to swallow that a kid with no experience rebuilding an engine could get it right on the first try. The conclusion is wrapped up a little too neatly, as well. I'm not sure how many 7th graders have the maturity to see beyond themselves and recognize the "person beneath the surface." I'm also not ...more
Roman Nowak
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Everyone is going through something. Sometimes our challenges are visible, and sometimes they aren't. We all deal with those challenges in our own ways."

An unexpected surprise of a book. A nice journey by the main character, Ked, as he navigates middle school, family problems, friendship, saving others, and dealing with his own physical challenges. It is always great to see a book where a protagonist can look like people who often aren't often seen and where that visibility isn't the focus or t
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ked used to have friends, but then he discovered that he had a progressive spinal disorder and as his body began to bend his friends slowly backed away (or did he?). He is bullied at school and his mother has left him and his father. His father has a gambling addiction and his job has been reduced to part-time. Now Ked learns that his father has gambled most of their rent money and they might be homeless soon. What can Ked do? Can he find a way to raise the rent money? What would he be willing t ...more
Kate Foran
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade
Ked Eakin is coping with more than his share of misfortune - a father with a gambling problem, an absent mother, a progressive spinal condition that causes him to have a large "hump" on his back, fading friendships and 7th grade bullies, for starters - but more urgent than all of that is making rent.

Ked comes up with plan to turn his luck around by fixing up a broken dirt bike and selling it -- he's actually racing against a clock to save himself and his dad from eviction.

I really cared about
Yvonne Stewart
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, audio
This is another book for upper elem. and lower middle school children that highlights differences. In this book, the main character has a hump on his back and is just trying to belong. At the end, there is a good ending which is the best part for me. I think I shed a few tears because there are some very sad parts-think Wonder by Palacio. Most of the characters are boys so maybe this one will appeal to boys well.
Erin Logan
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Middle schooler Ked has some serious troubles to handle - from his spinal deformity to school bullies to his dad's gambling problem. When his family is in danger of being evicted from their home, Ked takes matters into his own hands by stealing money, making some deals, and utilizing his library and school makerspace. I really loved and appreciated this book and am glad to feature it on our upcoming podcast. I would recommend this to most middle school kids.
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-graphic, j, life
Things are bleak for Ked: living in a small, withering town, a mom who's left, a dad who's just gambled away the rent money, and a rare condition that's gradually turning him into a hunchback (and outcast) in the hellish social landscape of seventh grade. He decides to make his own gamble to try to improve his situation, but the odds are against him all on his own with a bully constantly dogging him. This is an engaging, moving, and sympathetic story.
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me a lot of Death By Toilet Paper. A boy, trying all by himself to save his family, all the while being bullied by everyone at school. Great book with a great message about perseverance.
Rachel Grover
Jun 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Did not finish - made it about halfway. Lots of sad things happening, didn't see any reason/hope to root for him. Don't think my MS students would like it, either, with the exception of those looking for "sad books" - which happens more than you think.
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Middle Grade books are defiantly not my cup of tea.
Solid teen voice, and plenty of details about rebuilding an engine and using a makerspace. Planning to bring this to our 6th graders.
Grainne Daly
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
I was surprised by how much I liked this. Ked is very relatable and I appreciated the themes the book touched on. I did think the female characters were rather one dimensional.
Claire L
Nov 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Not bad
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a slow start for me, but once I hit the halfway point, it was hard to put down.
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This story was excellent. I have always told my students that you never know what is going on in other people's lives. This story is a great example of this.
Owen Brennen
Apr 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very creative story, with details everywhere.
Ms. St. Jean
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Michael Northrop is the New York Times bestselling author of 13 books for kids and teens, including the middle-grade adventure series TombQuest and the hit graphic novel Dear Justice League. His first young adult novel, Gentlemen, earned him a Publishers Weekly Flying Start citation, and his second, Trapped, was an Indie Next List selection. His first middle-grade novel, Plunked, was named one of ...more

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