Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Trapped” by Michael Northrop

Dear Parents of Book Club Members,

Our students have voted for the book, Trapped by local author Michael Northrup, as our next book club selection.  This book, has received praise from professional book journals.  The reviews (see below) list Trapped as a Middle and High School-appropriate read.  Since the Remsenburg-Speonk 6th grade students are in an elementary school setting, I wanted to make sure you are comfortable with this decision.  If you would like a copy of the book to preview and/or read along with your child, please let me know and I will send an extra one home.  If you are uncomfortable with your child reading Trapped, I will gladly suggest alternates.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the book, please contact me at 325-0203×128 or andria@rsufsd.org.

Happy reading!

Ms. A.

Booklist (January 1, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 9)
Grades 7-10. It’s a setup just plausible enough to give you chills. A nor’easter, which will ultimately be known as the worst blizzard in U.S. history, sweeps into a rural New England community, trapping seven kids inside their high school for days. Northrop begins with some dark foreshadowing—“Not all of us made it”—which makes the students’ gradual realization of their predicament all the more frightening. First the snow piles up past the windows; then the water pipes freeze; then the roof starts making ominous noises. What begins as a sort of life-or-death The Breakfast Club (there’s the delinquent, the pretty girl, the athlete, and so on) quickly turns into a battle for survival. The book is too short; in many ways, that’s a compliment. Northrop establishes so many juicy conflicts and potential disasters that you long to see them carried out to their full, gruesome potential. Instead, the book ends right when it’s hitting its stride—but there’s no denying that the pages turn like wildfire.

Horn Book (Fall 2011)
Seven high school students find themselves trapped at their isolated, rural school for nearly a week when an unrelenting blizzard dumps upwards of ten feet of snow on southern New England. The first-person narrative immediately captures the claustrophobic atmosphere; it loses a little steam as it navigates the requisite obstacles for survival and the evolving group dynamic to an abrupt resolution.

Kirkus Reviews (January 15, 2011)
When a nor’easter stalls over New England, the resulting blizzard strands seven teenagers at school for a week.The stage is quickly set for an edge-of-your-seat experience as Scotty, a sophomore varsity hoops player, narrates with a chilling nonchalance even as he makes it clear that at least one person didn’t survive. Telling them, “I’ll be sort of like your guide through all of this,” Scotty lulls readers into an ordinary morning at school, during which his biggest concern is whether the evening’s game will be cancelled, then hints at the horrific things to come with images of “black smoke and blue skin.” Scotty and his friends Jason and Pete hang out in shop class after early dismissal, sure that Jason’s dad will pick them up. Cell phones die, parents don’t arrive and the snow keeps rising, leaving the marooned students to fend for themselves. Scotty narrates from a slight remove, lending a deceptively one-dimensional feel to the cast of characters, a Breakfast Club assortment of various stereotypes from jock and goth to bad boy and hot girl. Just as he did in Gentlemen (2009), Northrop gets at the core of human nature through masterful pacing. The characters rise above their seeming limits, as the dawning realization of their worsening situation leads to acts of desperate bravery. Gripping. (Adventure. 12 & up)

Publishers Weekly (January 3, 2011)
Northrop (Gentlemen) offers a gripping disaster story that, for its reliance on luck and coincidences to set things up, is no less exciting. Although Tattawa High School in rural New England closes early for snow, basketball player Scotty and fellow sophomores Jason and Pete stay late to work on Jason’s go-kart. By the time they realize that the storm is too strong for their parents to pick them up, they’re trapped along with four other students (and a teacher, who quickly leaves to seek help). They’re already out of cellphone range, and when the power goes out, all hope of communicating with the outside world is lost. As the snow piles up to over 10 feet, the captive students do their best to survive and wait for help. The problems are expected-darkness, infighting, jealousy, illness, hunger-but conveyed with a tight sense of realism through Scotty’s narrative voice. He tells readers early on that “not all of us made it,” so the surprise is less that things keep going wrong than how they do. Northrop’s solid storytelling should keep readers rapt. Ages 15-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal (February 1, 2011)
Gr 7-10-High school sophomore Scotty Weem’s narration reveals immediately that he survives southern New England’s worst nor’easter ever recorded, but also that others in his group will die. The chilling story begins innocently enough as the snow starts to fall early in the day. When an early dismissal is announced, Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason finagle their way into the shop to work on Jason’s project, a go-kart, until their rides come. But they soon find themselves stranded in their rural high school building with five others: pretty Krista and her friend, Julie; thuggish Les; weird Elijah; and one gruff teacher. Their cell phones don’t work. Their rides don’t show up. The teacher goes for help and never returns. The power goes off. As hours, then days, pass, the water stops, the heat goes off, and they get increasingly hungry, cold, and scared. Readers might speculate about what they should have done, could have done, if stuck in their place, but the author does an admirable job of keeping the tone and plot appropriately sophomoric, i.e., they don’t always do the right thing, but do the best they can with knowledge and skills even they recognize are inadequate. The climax is propelled as much by the teens’ interpersonal conflicts as by Jason’s improbable deus ex machina from the shop. Teens should enjoy reading this survival story with their feet up in front of a toasty fire.

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