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The Game Of Sunken Places Hardcover – July 1, 2004

3.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Have you ever read a children's book about a boy or girl who visits an eccentric relative's mansion for vacation? Oh--of course you have. Well, M.T. Anderson's The Game of Sunken Places is one such book. Thirteen-year-old Gregory Buchanan's Uncle Max is very strange, as Gregory is quick to tell his friend Brian Thatz whom he enlists to join him in Vermont. Uncle Max, or Maximilian Grendle, and Gregory's cousin Prudence live in the "kind of world where there's organ music that gets louder when he eats refined sugar." Well, not exactly, but that's a typical Gregory-style comment.

Brian and Gregory's adventure begins when they find an old board game called The Game of Sunken Places. As it turns out, the Game is reality, and the boys must participate and win in order to settle the score in an age-old battle of enchanted spirit-nations. The story involves Brian, the quieter, more sensible friend, coming into his own and proving that, though not flashy, he is capable and brave. In addition, it examines the lifelong friendship between two very different boys. Also a suspenseful adventure, the story leads the boys to an ax-wielding, riddle-bearing (and hilarious) troll, an ogre named Snarth, the wee elf Sniggleping (not as cute as he sounds), translucent ghost riders, and much more. While the dialogue is exceedingly smart and funny, and the characters vividly drawn, the story bogs down a bit in twists and turns, leaving the reader wishing for a road map as much as the boys wish they had one for the Game. Still, Anderson, author of the popular Burger Wuss, Thirsty, and Feed, surprises his fans again with something utterly new and different. (Ages 10 and older) --Karin Snelson

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-9–Thirteen-year-olds Brian Thatz and Gregory Buchanan accept a cryptic invitation to visit Gregory's weird Uncle Max and cousin Prudence in Vermont. Uncle Max, a Victorian-era throwback, greets them in a horse-drawn carriage and dispatches them to his creepy old manor house. Once there, he burns the boys' luggage and everything in it, forcing them into the heavy tweed knickerbockers and starched shirt collars he prefers. Then an all-consuming game begins, though the hapless boys are not informed of it. It subjects them to every fiend Anderson can imagine, from bridge trolls and ogres to nefarious man-monsters in billowing cloaks. The boys are confused, and readers are likely to be as well. Anderson's prose is deliberately disorienting and chaotic, and his characters are quick-witted and engaging. This is an action-packed adventure, but the convoluted story line, abrupt scene changes, and unstable landscape will not be everyone's cup of tea.–Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Series: Game of Sunken Places
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press; 1st edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0439416604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439416603
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,382,939 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

M. T. Anderson is the author of The Game of Sunken Places, Burger Wuss, Thirsty, and Feed, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Don't trust anything or anyone! As much as I hate to use cliché's, in this book absolutely nothing is as it seems, and clues hide themselves in the strangest of places. Oftentimes, the solution that seems most obvious is not the solution. What a wonderful book of twists and turns!
I was won over immediately by the writing style. At once dark and flippantly humorous, the author has a fine eye for detail, and more than once I found myself laughing out loud, only to be silenced moments later due to a suspenseful turn of events. You'll find, in the beginning, that a dictionary will come in hand, and I urge you to look up any words you don't understand. More often than not, you'll find that the knowledge of the word enriches the reading experience, and the quirkiness of the "big word" is appropriate for the setting. For example, phthisis means pulmonary tuberculosis. And as it's used in the book, it's hysterical. Really.
The actual game described in the title is astonishingly innovative; I've never seen anything like it. To say anything about it gives too much away, so I'll hope only that you trust me.
The Booklist review, as well as the inside jacket flap, do a wonderful job of setting the scene, so I'll end by saying: this book NEEDS to have a broader reading audience. At the writing of this review, the book ranked 73,034 on Amazon's listing. That must change. I have a very difficult time imagining someone reading this book and not being highly entertained, for there is ample entertainment value, of myriad kinds, on every page. If you take my recommendation, you won't regret it.
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A Kid's Review on June 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I first got this book I wasn't sure what to expect. The opening flap suggested a Chronicles of Narnia kind of feel, but what I got was totally different.

The book starts out when the main character, Gregory and his friend Brian are invited to stay at Gregory's Uncle's old house in the country. There they discover a lost civilization, a mysterious game, and many extrodinary adventures and creatures.

For me, this book was not only a captivating read but had me laughing so hard I was on the ground in tears.

This bok was well written, but some of the words may be a bit difficult to understand (and there are no dictionary quotes like in "A Series of Unfortunate Events").

I highly reccomend this book for anyone who loves fantasy, particularly if you enjoy lost countries and mythical beings made to fit into our own world without flaw.
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Format: Hardcover
"The woods were silent, other than the screaming." Right from this first sentence of THE GAME OF SUNKEN PLACES, readers get a good idea of the creepy fun they're in for in M. T. Anderson's masterful new fantasy novel. In addition to being genuinely scary, Anderson's novel also manages to be wickedly clever and laugh-out-loud funny at the same time.

If you just look at the book's jacket, you'd think THE GAME OF SUNKEN PLACES was one of those old-time adventure novels. And, in many ways, you'd be right. The story does feel very old-fashioned, even though it's set in the present day. Part of the book's nostalgic feel comes from the plot. There's the eccentric (borderline insane) uncle living in a ramshackle mansion in the woods of Vermont, for one thing. Gregory and his best friend Brian travel by train to stay with Gregory's uncle during their autumn school vacation.

Uncle Max meets them with a horse and carriage, brings them to the isolated mansion, and takes away all their modern-day possessions, leaving them with nothing to wear but old-fashioned nightgowns and knickerbockers. The two friends find themselves in an attic nursery, filled with toys from the past, including the mysterious "Game of Sunken Places" board game.

As soon as Brian and Gregory turn over the hourglass timer that starts the game, they get the feeling that this is no simple game of Parcheesi. Instead, the game board, which represents the dark woods outside the mansion, is filled with sinister characters like the ogre Snarth, the mysterious opponent Jack Stimple, and the bitter elf Wee Sniggleping, who spends all his time convincing Brian and Gregory that he's not like one of those cheerful Keebler Elves.
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Format: Hardcover
An ancient grudge. A mysterios game. Murderers, monsters, and ghosts. How long can Brian and Gregory survive?

When Gregory gets a strange invitation from his adopted uncle, he's not sure what to expect. One thing's for sure, what's about to happen, was definitely not on his list.

This creepy book is like one giant roller coaster, twisting and turning you, taking you down sheer drops you never saw before. "The Game of Sunken Places" keeps you on the edge of your seat till the very last page! I love how the author makes the setting seem so real. It's almost like you've been there before.

I suggest this book to any mystery lover. Theres riddles to solve, puzzles to figure out, and the suspense is exelent! You can feel yourself getting nervous as some one stalks Brian in the woods, or as the Gelt of Winnower passes overhead.You practically faint at the "roller coaster drop" ending.If you are a person who likes mystery, suspense, and a little fantasy, you sould definitely read this book.

Larke Galyan

age: 13
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