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The Project Hardcover – August 23, 2011


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 820L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (August 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037586945X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375869457
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

BRIAN FALKNER attended a three-month writing residency at the University of Iowa's International Writing Program in 2008. He arrived in Iowa City not long after devastating floods had ravaged the region. His experience there became the inspiration for The Project.

To learn more about Brian and his books, visit brianfalkner.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

­Prologue

This is not the most boring book in the world.

This is a book about the most boring book in the world, which is a different book altogether.

This book is really interesting and exciting, and parts of it are quite funny.

The most boring book in the world, on the other hand, is really, really boring. It’s a real clunker. It’s so boring that if I told you what it was about, you’d be asleep before I got past the introduction. And so would I.

You might think that your history textbook is the most boring book in the world. But you are wrong. Or you might think that your auntie’s book about dried flowers is the most boring book in the world, but that’s like an action-packed adventure story compared to the real most boring book in the world.

The most boring book in the world is so boring that only one copy of it was ever printed. The story goes that the guy who was printing the book glanced down and started reading the pages as they were whizzing through the hand-turned press, and it was so boring that he fell asleep and knocked over a lantern onto a stack of paper, which caught fire and destroyed the printery. Only one copy survived. Which is probably a good thing.

The printer, whose name was Albert, was fired, but he found a cozy little job licking postage stamps at a post office in Moose Jaw, Canada, which sounds like the most boring job in the world, and it probably was, but he said it was still better than printing the most boring book in the world.

But this book is not about Albert. It’s about the most boring book in the world. And, most of all, it is about me and Tommy, the ones who found the most boring book in the world, and the terrible things that took place after we found it.

1. Busted

“We would have got away with it if it wasn’t for that drunken squirrel,” said Luke. He managed a grin at Tommy, who was sitting next to him on the hard, slatted bench outside the vice principal’s office.

As always, in the cold, hard light of the next day, their prank seemed childish and stupid. But this time, Luke had discovered the universal law of vice principals: Those in America had no better sense of humor than those back in New Zealand.

“Don’t sweat it, dude,” Tommy said. “I can handle Kerr.”

“Yeah right.”

Tommy’s dad was a lawyer, and Tommy always thought he could talk his way out of anything. Sometimes he was right.

Tommy had a coin in his hand and was flipping it up in the air, catching it first on the topside of his fingers, then flipping his hand over and catching it on the underside. “Seriously,” he said. “I’ve been in more courtrooms than you’ve had hot dinners. I’m going to tie this sucker up in so many legal knots that he’ll look like a . . . a . . . pretzel.”

“Someone doing yoga,” Luke said simultaneously.

“Yep, a pretzel doing yoga,” Tommy said.

“I hope so.”

“Just back me up on whatever I say.”

“No worries about that, bro,” Luke said.

Tommy flipped the coin a couple more times, then caught it in his palm and made a fist. “How many times?” he asked.

“How many times what?” Luke asked.

“How many times did I toss the coin? Get it right, you can keep the coin.”

“Forty-seven,” Luke said.

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

“How many of them were heads?” Tommy asked.

“Twenty-nine,” Luke said.

“How many tails?”

“All the rest.” Luke smiled.

Tommy flipped the coin to him. “That’s freaky,” he said. “How do you do that?”

“Dunno, bro.”

It was true. He really didn’t know. When he was younger, Luke had thought that everybody could remember things like he could and was surprised to find out that most people’s memories were sieves. His memory was a blessing and a curse. In class he would scan the textbook at the start of the lesson and no longer need to concentrate. That led to hours of staring out of classroom windows or doodling in the margins of his workbooks. The boredom also led to some interesting pranks that were hilarious to him and his classmates but that, for some inexplicable reason, his teachers did not find funny.

The door to the office opened, and Ms. Sheck, their homeroom teacher, stood in the gap.

In her early twenties, she observed the strict dress code for teachers at the high school, with a simple skirt, plain blouse, and sensible flat shoes. However, she wore a bit too much eyeliner; there was a suspicious hole in the side of her nose; and her sprayed, clipped blond hair seemed to be struggling to bust out. If students were angry with Ms. Sheck, they called her Ms. Shrek, but she really didn’t look anything like Shrek. Luke thought she looked more like Princess Fiona, the beautiful princess (in her non-ogre moments). All of the guys at the school thought she was really hot.

“Come in, boys,” she said solemnly, but Luke thought he saw her eyes sparkle, just slightly.

Luke took a deep breath and stood up.

Mr. Kerr, on the other hand, was a jelly doughnut. Or at least what Luke imagined a jelly doughnut would look like if it ever became vice principal of a high school. Rolls of fat bulged in places where most people didn’t even have places. He always wore a three-piece suit in some kind of vain attempt to conceal the bulges, but it just made them more obvious. A thick shock of red hair added the jelly to the top of the doughnut.

Kerr’s office was dominated by a huge, ugly wooden desk in the center of the room. The corners of the desk were carved knobs that looked like clenched fists, and the panel in the front was vaguely skull-like in design. The desk was in the middle of a bright circle of light created by four small ceiling-mounted spotlights. Two of the lights shone in Luke’s eyes, as if he were a spy under interrogation. Ve haf vays of making you talk! he thought.

Kerr was examining a book, the book, Luke saw and cringed a little. It had been their English assignment, but after seven attempts, he had given up trying to read it. The remains of the duct tape were still attached to the bottom and spine of the book, covering part of the title so that it said The Last of the Mo. Kerr leaned forward and slammed the book down right in front of them, one corner jutting out over the edge of the desk, pointing right at Luke. He and Tommy both stared at it.

Kerr glowered at them from under thick orange eyebrows. “Sit,” he said.

They sat.

Luke reached out and straightened the book so that it lined up with the edge of the desk. Kerr looked him in the eye, and Luke quickly glanced away.

“Was it worth it?” Kerr asked.

“Sir?” Tommy asked with an expression of utter innocence.

“Was it worth it?” Kerr repeated.

Luke began, “I’m not sure what—”

“Tell me why I shouldn’t call your parents right now. Tell me why I shouldn’t call the police.”

Luke drew in his breath sharply and caught Ms. Sheck’s eyes.

“I don’t think there’s any need for the police,” she said.

Mr. Kerr shot a glance at Ms. Sheck as if she had no right to interfere, but the edges of her mouth curled up into a smile, and even he couldn’t bring himself to stay angry with her.

His eyes fastened themselves firmly back on Luke. “I don’t know what they let you get away with in New Zealand,” Kerr continued, “but in America we have certain standards of behavior that are expected of our students.”

Luke considered telling him that he had once been suspended from a school in New Zealand for a “certain standard of behavior” but decided that it wasn’t quite the appropriate moment.

Kerr continued. “You have caused this school a lot of embarrassment. You could have been killed.”

It wasn’t clear which of those two he considered worse.

More About the Author

Brian Falkner was born and raised in Auckland. He is the author of several novels for children and teenagers including, The Flea Thing, 2003 (AKA Henry and the Flea) which was shortlisted for the LIANZA Esther Glen Medal; The Real Thing, 2004; The Super Freak (AKA Super Freak) which was shortlisted in the NZ Post Awards 2006; and The Tomorrow Code (shortlisted, NZ Post Awards and the Esther Glen Medal, 2009). Brainjack won the Sir Julius Vogel Science Fiction Award (Young Adult).

Prior to becoming a children's author, Brian trained as a journalist and then worked as a reporter and an advertising copywriter, a radio announcer and an internet developer. His hobbies include scuba-diving, travel, amateur theatre, photography and rugby.

He lives on the sunny Gold Coast of Australia.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Highly, highly recommended grades 7-up.
pamelathompsonblogger
The subject matter was interesting, Luke was a great character, and the book itself was fast paced enough to both hold my attention and make me want to keep reading.
Books31
Can't wait to read another of Falkner's works!
Sonic08

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By M. Knapp on August 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Luke, a recent transplant from New Zealand, and Tommy are friends at an Iowa high school. A practical joke lands them in the principal's office, but their punishment is delayed by the rising river and the necessity of sending volunteers to the river banks to stuff sandbags and move books to higher ground. In the process, Luke and Tommy are alerted to the presence of an extremely valuable book, Leonardo's River, which is also highly sought after by bad guys. Leonardo's River, "the most boring book in the world" is said to contain coded information coveted by Nazi sympathizers, who intend to use it for a project to alter the course of history. The narrative gives both boys a chance to be leaders and each brings special skills to their efforts to keep the book (and The Project plans) from falling into the wrong hands. THE PROJECT is filled with action. The frequent dialogue is a slightly odd mix of teen speak ("True that" "Easy as, bro")and spy thriller jargon ("Stay frosty"). THE PROJECT will appeal to adventure-loving middle-schoolers. Slightly older readers may prefer BRAINJACK, Falkner's computer thriller released last year. Can't wait to see what Falkner comes up with next!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gina Reality Checker on July 10, 2013
Format: Paperback
Following are reviews from two of my students.

The Project is about two friends: Tommy and Luke. The story revolves around Leonardo da Vinci and Nazi Germany. Tommy and Luke steal a priceless book on Leonardo da Vinci and people in hiding want it. They then embark on an adventure that has many twists and turns.
This book is a masterly crafted piece of work. You can learn a lot about Leonardo da Vinci in this book. It also shows how powerful friendship is. I enjoy how it was suspenseful. You would ask many questions, and the solution shocks you. The strange twist is also very cool. The story is very realistic and I believe it can really happen. I'd recommend it to some of my friends who are fascinated by these kinds of things like World War Two.
Leland Not From New Zealand - 8th Grade

This book is about two teenagers Tommy and Luke. They like to prank people, but are kind and helpful. Due to the punishment that the principal givesto them, they have to do a reading project. In order to not do this project, Tommy and Luke say that the book that they have to read is the world's most boring book. The teacher wants them to prove this, so they go online and search for the most boring book in the world. Unexpectedly, the most boring book cost $2 million. During the big flood, they go to the library and steal the book. To their surprise, they found out that they are not he only ones who want the book. Tommy and Luke are very confused, so they form a detective team. During the investigation, they have a very interesting and dangerous adventure.

The author's vivid descriptions and interesting imagination caught my eye. Adventurous kids should read this book. Also, you can learn many things about history and Leonardo da Vinci. Have fun reading the book!
Jacqui Z. - 7th Grade

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ameya on January 25, 2013
Format: Paperback
I love books about books - secret books, coded books, historical books, books no longer in print, even the most boring book in the world, which is the subject of this story.

Brian Falkner has created and crafted an inventive story around Nazi Germany that one could not see coming from the first few chapters depicting the fairly mundane lives of 2 teenage boys living in Iowa. It seems that the critics and the public love stories that remind the reader of history and particularly of WW2 and Germany's role in it. So it is a surprise that this first-rate young-adult book has skirted their attention. It should be filling the bookshops and entering teen households the world over. "The Boy in Striped Pajamas" by John Boyne and "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak come to mind. "The Project" is every bit as good.

In a snapshot, Luke McKay and Tommy Wundheiler (who luckily can also speak German), serendipitously find the most boring book in the world - the sole-surviving copy of it, find out that there is a reward on it, go back in flood waters to basically steal it, find that international men of mystery are on their trails and do their best to keep the book out of the hands of these antagonists. However, their plans unravel when they are flown to present-day Germany and interestingly to the Germany of World War 2. This reader was waiting for the contraption to take them to the genius Leonardo Da Vince, but that may have to wait for another book. Dan Brown fans take note: the Vitruvian Man features predominantly in this mystery.

We follow Luke and Tommy from one hair-raising adventure after another.
The reason for the 4 stars (rather than 5) is the slightly saggy start, which might have better kick-started the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Lee on June 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a mother who screens everything her 13-year-old daughter reads - from her birth - I'm only being modest when I say I've read a lot more pre-K through middle-school fiction now than many librarians and book reviewers I know, and I pride myself on being able to guess the endings of most books just from reading the jacket summaries alone. Occasionally, however, I am stymied by the sheer original (believing that true originality is a myth)construction of a good story. Brian Falkner, in "The Project", managed to stump me. My hat is off to you, sir!

Most people these days, I'd wager, being the cynics we are, even at the ripe old age of ... middle school ... would roll their eyes at a book that starts with "This is not the most boring book in the world." I mean, we all know the tricks, right? Wrong! What begins as a school project of sorts (For the record, I personally *do* find "The Last of the Mohicans" to be one of the most boringly-written books called "classic") turns out to be an adventure of the most bizarre.

Maybe it's because Brian Falkner is a New Zealander - so it should come as little surprise that his writing reminds me a little of Maurice Gee (see previous review of "The Fire Raiser."). I am also reminded of Markus Zusak's "The Book Thief" which I personally did not enjoy although I appreciate its worth. It's very interesting for me to view World War II events through the eyes of different nations, and the way that filters through "The Project" is quite unnerving. I felt like Stephen King's "Apt Pupil" was looking over my shoulder as this story unwound!
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