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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  3,503 ratings  ·  660 reviews
Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek--two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, ...more
Hardcover, 433 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
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Kate Joe’s Mountain Market is the market where Nora’s brother works and where a lot of events in the story take place.
Marlow It's okay... A lot of the themes could've been handled better, but it still is a decent book.…moreIt's okay... A lot of the themes could've been handled better, but it still is a decent book.(less)

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Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,503 ratings  ·  660 reviews

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Engaging and thought provoking. One of my favorite Kate Messner books, yet!
Jillian Heise
There was more to this than I expected from the teasers and knowing some of the background of the story from Kate's posts. I was drawn in by the different layers to the story, the multi-genre method of telling it, and the characters authenticity. And Messner allows the characters and circumstances to delve into deeper issues of racism and systemic oppression, in a way that is engaging and developmentally appropriate for the targeted age level, making this a must purchase for intermediate and mid ...more
Rebecca Sofferman
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
I just finished Breakout and I hardly know what to say except please do yourself a favor and read it! I’ve been a fan of Kate Messner’s books for years but this is by far her best and perhaps most important work yet. I thought I was going to be reading a book based on the true story of a prison breakout that happened near my home, which had me intrigued from the start. But the book also takes on the issue of white privilege in the context of a rural north country town where most kids have no ide ...more
You know, if I had known before downloading Kate Messner's Breakout that the entire story basically just consists of multiple letters, announcements, post it notes, text messages and the like, I probably would not have even bothered (because generally, if there happens to be too much of this in a given novel, I do tend to find that majorly distracting, and since Breakout is basically ONLY this, is ONLY very short letters, text messages, inserted poetry etc., yes indeed, I have found my reading e ...more
Christie Allred
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
The premise drew me in and I love the cover. But I struggled to connect with the characters and the dialog did not seem natural in many places. It was very slow paced and repetitive as well. It didn't help that I'm not into poetry, rap, or political hot topics in children's books either—the racism message was very heavy handed. Had I known ahead of time, I would not have read it. Obviously there are many who enjoy this story, so you'll have to try it out for yourself, but it wasn't my style. I d ...more
Just my opinion, and I mean no disrespect. I’m a big fan of Kate’s books and I know she worked hard on this one and did a lot of research but it just didn’t work for me. I think this would’ve worked better as narrative non-fiction or even historical fiction since the story did closely mirror the breakout event. I thought the racism pieces were very didactic and felt like a forced lesson for readers, rather than a natural unfolding of the story.
Rachel Harder
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most captivating and brilliant books I’ve read in a long time.
Lorie Barber
Nov 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mg-fiction
So I cry a lot when I'm reading books. That wasn't true for this one. But as I reflect on what I've just read and write my review, I am in tears.

Breakout is unequivocally in my top 3 for best books ever written for middle-grade readers. In an effort to educate myself on racism and oppression in the United States, I have read a lot of YA fiction (Angie Thomas, Nic Stone, Jason Reynolds are a few that spring to mind) that has tackled the tough topic of racism. I've been waiting for a middle-grade
I love a good epistolary middle grade. Regarding the Fountain was one of my favorite books growing up. Despite high hopes, I didn’t have as much fun with this one.

For a book about murderers on the loose, this was boring. Messner discussed corruption in the criminal justice system, but it was so heavy-handed. She’d either have Sean use buzzwords to stress out his parents, or would have someone in Wolf Creek be racist to Elidee again. The final argument was scattered and feeble. It seemed to just
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure in the beginning or even half way through how many stars I was gonna give this. But just now after finishing it there was no doubt it deserved 5 stars.

This book was purchased by my son at his school Book Fair. He asked me to read it before he did. I've done that and I do want him to read it, but I think I'll hold onto it for when he's a little older and can fully grasp the information and history shared within it's pages.

I'm the type of person that when I come across a place, boo
Alex  Baugh
Jul 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's two weeks before the end of school and the kids in Wolf Creek Middle School in upstate New York are looking forward to summer vacation. This year, however, they have a summer assignment to submit at least 5 items to be put into the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule to be opened in fifty years. For best friends and lifetime residents of Wolf Creek Nora Tucker and Lizzie Bruno, the assignment is pretty interesting. Nora's father is the superintendent town's maximum security prison, and Lizzie ...more
Jordan Henrichs
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting format... a collection of letters, articles, transcripts, and photos that have been compiled for a time capsule. The documents tell the story of a summer in the community of Wolf Creek when two dangerous prison inmates escape. The book attempts to touch on issues of race and stereotypes as members of the community begin to freak out over the escaped inmates. I thought Nora, the main character, forced the issue at times and that made this feel more didactic than I think it meant to be ...more
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
Breakout is a book about a prison breakout over summer. It is written in notes and texts and snippets of conversation.
Ms. B
Aug 18, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. What happens when two inmates break out of a maximum security prison that employs most of a small town's citizens?
On the plus side; this story told entirely through letters, texts, poetry, comics, and news reports (mostly) from the points of view of three middle schoolers; Nora, Lizzie and Elidee, held my interest enough to keep me up late. Unfortunately the ending didn't deliver for me; it simply ended. Maybe that was Kate's intent? To write a book that leaves you pondering what you
Jan Raspen
Jun 20, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ms-appropriate
I REALLY wanted to like this one. I'd heard some buzz about it, I pre-ordered it from Amazon, I even got a bunch of free teacher stuff for doing that.
But UGH, the lessons we are supposed to learn from reading this book HIT. ME. OVER. THE. HEAD. Time and time again.
At times, the dialog was completely unbelievable. The characters would quote their teachers, like, "My social studies teacher said that the racial makeup of prisoners is way out of whack with the racial..." So over the top. I know for
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Eildeeeeeee <3 <3 <3 I loved this book from top to bottom - the multiple format telling (text messages, letters, news clippings both "real" and parody), Nora becoming woke to the harsher realities of her sleepy hometown, Lizzie's humor and techniques to improve it, and Eildee writing her way out. I also loved the way Messner included so many outward connections - Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jacqueline Woodson, Nikki Giovanni, Prohibition, Black Lives Matter, William Carlos Williams, there's ...more
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
I was so impressed with this! It’s huge but easy to read (the texts and cartoons helped it stay fast-paced) and it is a great introduction (especially for white kids) to some big ideas about injustice. Give this to your little activists and watch them fall crazy in love with this book.
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this as part of a book club for 7th graders. Loved the message and the format of the book.
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 -- LOVED this story and the different pieces of writing used to tell it. This also got me down a rabbit hole researching the actual prison outbreak from 2015 and those from Alcatraz!
Katie Zarzour
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
by Kate Messner

“You know what I’m tired of? Living with all of these rules. I’m tired of not having freedom.”

This quote stood out to me as I read Breakout by Kate Messner. Nora Tucker and Lizzie Bruno immediately introduce Wolf Creek as a happy, friendly, and welcoming little town, but so many rules are put into place when two inmates break out of Wolf Creek Correctional Facility. Does Elidee Jones see Wolf Creek as the happy and welcoming town that everyone says it is? Nora says that
Rebecca Donnelly
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm really looking forward to introducing my library kids & the adults in their lives to BREAKOUT. First, because it’s Kate & it’s got all the hallmarks of one of her beloved middle grade books: a North Country setting, relatable kids and families, & an accessible route into a difficult topic. On the surface, BREAKOUT is about a northern NY community affected by the escape of two inmates from the local correctional facility one summer—a thing that happened in my area in 2015. But Kate uses that ...more
Wendi Lee
There are a lot of interesting middle grade books out there about prisons - All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook is one of them - that takes a hard look at the issue and how it affects kids. Breakout is slightly different. There is a main character, Elidee, who moves to Wolf Creek to be closer to her incarcerated older brother. But for the most part, this is a book about a small town where most of the income comes from the prison, and what happens when two inmates escape.

I've enjoyed Messner
First, this is a fun book about a small town dealing with consuming disruption in their idyllic community, when two convicts escape from the nearby prison, AKA, the town business. The characters are strong and likable. (I do wish it had been shorter)

In a year where many books are dealing with issues of race and including Own-voices, BREAKOUT is a nice inclusion. Simply because it shows the white perspective of observing and questioning microaggressions. It may rely too much on cliches, backpacks
Wendy Garland
When two inmates escape from the local jail, an extended manhunt causes Nora to think twice about her small, safe and friendly town. Nora and her journalist buddy Lizzie set out to listen and report on the situation which we read about via letters, texts, and transcripts for the town time capsule. What they learn is that people are more than the choices they make. They also discover that their quiet little town was more racially biased than they imagined. Kate Messner does a brilliant job of gen ...more
Clare Lund
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just finished reading this again with a 7th & 8th grade book club. Excellent material for discussions about racism and unfair assumptions, and the kids really enjoyed the unique format.


I really enjoyed this story of what happens to a small town when two inmates from a local prison escape. Fear can help a community come together, but it can also bring out the worst in people. Told through multiple narrators' artifacts for a time capsule, this book sheds lights on important issues like systemic
Caroline (readtotheend on IG)
Lots of folks seemed to like this one but my son abandoned it very early on and I picked it up because I was curious as to why he wouldn't like it and I ended up not liking it very much either. The format of letters, post-its, drawings seems like it would be appealing to middle graders but the story was VERY slow in developing and the actual action doesn't happen until the very end, in my opinion. It was too much development of the narrators and their town when it could have been more abbreviate ...more
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love a good epistolary, but I haven't come across many in the middle-grade level. This one is told 100% through letters, text messages, newspaper articles, etc. with no prose to tie them together. The letters really serve as the prose to tell the main story. This is, I think, the only downfall of the story. I'd like to have seen fewer of the letters and more narrative, but I appreciate the effort of the letters and the relevance of the text messages being included. (A pet peeve of mine is book ...more
Joanne Kelleher
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Forget about a coming-of-age story, this was a becoming “woke” story. When you see the words “white privilege” and “racial profiling” in a middle grade book, you know that lessons are in the making. Messner presents important and provocative issues in a way that invites reflection and discussion at a level appropriate for younger readers.

When two prisoners, one black and one white, break out of the local prison, the small town of Wolf Creek shows cracks in its identity as a “friendly, welcoming”
Sarah Krajewski
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nora Tucker lives in Upstate New York in a small town called Wolf Creak. The town isn’t known for much, except for its maximum security prison that her father is the superintendent of. Summer vacation is about to begin, and Nora can’t wait for it. Things change when two inmates escape from the prison. Police and state troopers are everywhere, townspeople begin to show their true colors, and kids like Nora aren’t allowed to do much of anything anymore. Soon, Nora begins to worry that Wolf Creek m ...more
Dylan Boyle
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Breakout” by Kate Messner, is a very unique book compared to almost every other book. It is so special in the way it is written. Kate Messner does a great job or writing the book in the form of letters, newspapers, and poems.

There are a few main characters who the letters and poems are written by which gives the book many perspectives on the issues in it.

In the book, for the first time in history, in the town of Wolf Creek, 2 convicts have escaped from the maximum security prison leaving e
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Kate Messner is an award-winning author, TED 2012 speaker, and former middle school English teacher. Her books for kids include THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.,SUGAR AND ICE, and EYE OF THE STORM (Walker/Bloomsbury Dec. 2010) the MARTY MCGUIRE series (Scholastic), SEA MONSTER'S FIRST DAY, and OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW (Chronicle, Books). Kate also wrote SPITFIRE and CHAMPLAIN AND THE SILENT ONE, bot ...more

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