Great Middle Grade Reads discussion

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ARCHIVE - BOTM discussions > Book of the Month for March 2016 is THE BOUNDLESS

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message 1: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Pett | 1299 comments Mod
So, with 22% of the votes, our book for March is The Boundless, by Kenneth Oppel. This beat Shackleton's Stowaway and One Crazy Summer who both got 15% of the vote. Thank you all for voting - it certainly was a busy one.

So, get reading, and add your comments below. We're looking forward to a lively discussion of this month's winning Historical Fiction book.


message 2: by Angie (new)

Angie (angiebayne) I am actually using this book for my 3-5th grade book club this month as well. What a coincidence!


message 3: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Well, even though I was a member of the overwhelming majority that *didn't* vote for this book, I'll give it a go. ;)


message 4: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Pett | 1299 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Well, even though I was a member of the overwhelming majority that *didn't* vote for this book, I'll give it a go. ;)"

I know what you mean, Cheryl, but we rarely have a winner with more than 30% of the vote, as far as I can see. Part of the problem is having lots of nominations. We could limit it to six each month for voting - or have a pre-vote for the top 5 or so and then a second round of voting. But that does sound a bit formal!


message 5: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) I think a second round, a run-off, would be terrific. :)


message 6: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) So, this is a totally engaging read, I found myself much further along than I expected to when I came up for breath. It's mostly an adventure, which is not to my taste, but I'm still enjoying it, and I do want to see 'what happens next.'

But, um, historical fiction?' I always thought of the genre as something rooted in reality, something that teachers could suggest to students to give them a perspective on true historical events. This seems, to me, to have an awful heavy dose of fantasy, and not a whole lot of true events.


message 7: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Done. Good book. Entertaining and thought-provoking.

Not sure I'm comfortable with all the bloodshed, though... it seems to be a thing lately: so long as the good guys are reluctant to commit violence, and retch the first time they kill someone, it's ok to have a high body count.


message 8: by Jemima (new)

Jemima Pett | 1299 comments Mod
Cheryl wrote: "Not sure I'm comfortable with all the bloodshed, though... it seems to be a thing lately: so long as the good guys are reluctant to commit violence, and retch the first time they kill someone, it's ok to have a high body count."

A brilliant summary. Is this the extension of watching Tom and Jerry etc at an early age, do you think? Have we been de-sensitised?


message 9: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Hm. I think it's the other way 'round. Didn't pre-TV Stevenson, Dumas, Defoe, Grimm, Tolkien, Cooper, Scott, Pyle, have plenty of Glorious War, don't hesitate to Kill the Bad Guys, etc.?

Isn't the squeamishness of the MC/hero, that I'm seeing more now, actually an indication that we (parents, teachers, librarians, not necessarily kids) are actually *more* sensitive?

I think kids know that adventure stories and cartoons are pretend. (Video games are another matter - I don't think we maybe want to get into that discussion.) And I guess having the MC be aware (that taking another's life is serious business) is a good thing.

*I* just don't really care for adventure stories in which violence plays such a big role. And I'm not convinced they're of value to kids, either.


message 10: by Jemima (last edited Mar 09, 2016 10:13AM) (new)

Jemima Pett | 1299 comments Mod
Good point. Maybe the value of life was lower in bygone era, and at some level we are more concerned when people die, especially when they die needlessly. Yet we get visual references to people dying impressed upon us (or we are exposed to them) more vividly than in the past.

BTW I should pick up my copy of The Boundless next Tuesday. I just have to finish two more books this weekend - and they are both big (and one is somewhat tedious!)


message 11: by Cheryl (last edited Mar 09, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) Again, I find myself, not disagreeing exactly, but tweaking the direction of our discussion... I'm not sure the *value* of life was less, but it used to be that death was a much closer experience. Young readers often lost siblings to childhood illnesses for which we now have vaccinations, for example. And they knew exactly where their bacon came from.

I think that we are currently struggling to figure out the value of life. For example, in the US, do we value the freedom to own guns over the lives lost to Columbine-style shooters? Nobody has it all figured out. Authors like Kenneth Oppel may well be trying to contribute their thoughts to the discussion. He did put lamb on the menu, perhaps with an idea to remind vegetarians that we have a history of carnivorism...


message 12: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1668 comments Mod
I'll get my copy and get started soon--almost forgot about this.


message 13: by Jemima (last edited Mar 27, 2016 01:40PM) (new)

Jemima Pett | 1299 comments Mod
I sat down and read about half of it more or less in one go... and then it started to turn into the more ordinary type of story, boy meets up with circus, etc. Maybe I've read a few circus-on-trains stories in the last fifteen months, though.
[later that day]
I finished it in another go this afternoon. I enjoyed the story, and I think it's a fair reflection of the period and the way different classes were treated, even though I take Cheryl's point about extending that into fantasy. It's a kind of ghost story though, at times. I found the descriptions very vivid and I enjoyed it a lot.

Historical meets spec fiction, maybe?

It's an interesting twist on the 'absent parent' syndrome, though!


message 14: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 8 comments I will be honest, I was not really 100% interested in reading this book. I'm not sure why, but it just didn't seem interesting! HOWEVER, after the first couple of chapters, I really started to enjoy the adventure and story. I love how there was scheming, trains, and best of all a circus (thank goodness for no clowns!). I was really happy with how well the author made this book interesting for many different readers by including fantasy, trains, circus, and adventure. This book can really relate to anyone.

This is a great middle read because it's about a boy trying to find his way in the world. He's trying to figure out his story. So many kids are trying to figure out their stories of what they want to be when they grow up, or who they want to be in middle school (am I the class clown? The jock? The nerd?). Also, this is the age where kids start wanting to date, so a little romance is included between the main character Will and the Maren (but nothing to where parents should worry).

This is also a great adventure book! From the hammering of the last spike in the railroad, to fighting sasquatch and avalanches, to being a part of a train heist; Will keeps you thouroughly entertained from beginning to end. I could definitely see many of my sixth grade friends, both male and female, enjoying this book and I recommend it to anyone who has a thing for getting caught in the right place at the right time to create their story.

Yes, there is violence. I am aware that violence is the talk of the classrooms right now (especially in social studies), but violence happens everyday. Kids need to be aware of how to deal with issues and this book can really help them in seeing that Will didn't do what everyone else was doing, he didn't want to hurt anyone, he just wanted to get back to his dad... alive. I try to use these happenings as teachable moments. If we continue to sweep these issues under the rug and make them taboo, we are just becoming blind to the problem!


message 15: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Douglass (rdouglass) | 1668 comments Mod
Dang, March is almost over and I never got my copy. Not sure now if I ever even requested it! I have two books waiting for me when I get to the library this afternoon--maybe this is one? I'll see.


message 16: by Samantha (new)

Samantha | 8 comments Rebecca wrote: "Dang, March is almost over and I never got my copy. Not sure now if I ever even requested it! I have two books waiting for me when I get to the library this afternoon--maybe this is one? I'll see."
It's a very quick read! I think it only took me 3 days because I was so into it!


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Boundless (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Kenneth Oppel (other topics)