- Age Range: 10 - 14 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 9
- Lexile Measure: 840 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 448 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books (June 5, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1681195364
- ISBN-13: 978-1681195360
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.4 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 36 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Breakout Hardcover – June 5, 2018
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—Nora and Lizzie have grown up in Wolf Creek, a small town where Nora's father is superintendent of the maximum security prison. Elidee, one of only two African American students at Wolf Creek Middle School, recently moved there to be closer to her brother who is incarcerated in Wolf Creek Correctional Facility. When two inmates escape, tensions begin to rise. The story is told through letters and other documents by the three girls. Nora reports on the breakout, Lizzie parodies these reports, and Elidee writes poetry inspired by Jacqueline Woodson and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Readers also see text messages, school announcements, comics, and transcribed conversations. The book is a rich source of writing examples which can become didactic: at one point, students duly follow their teacher's instructions on persuasive writing to write petitions. The broad range of writing formats is engaging, however, and allows readers to understand the varying viewpoints of Nora, Elidee, and Lizzie. Messner places issues of race and criminal justice at the center of the story: Elidee frequently encounters racism in Wolf Creek, Lizzie learns about racial imbalances in the prison population, and Nora's older brother tells her about Black Lives Matter. The few middle grade titles that include characters in prison in a contemporary setting (Leslie Connor's All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, Deborah Ellis's Jakeman) don't discuss these issues so explicitly. VERDICT An accessible format and a unique focus on contemporary issues of criminal justice and racial bias make this an essential purchase.—Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library
"An effective, authentically wrought look at how fear and ignorance can lead people to treat those of different races or from different places with suspicion. Messner shines a light on the ways that people are blind to their own privilege while quick to judge others." - starred review, Publishers Weekly
"An accessible format and a unique focus on contemporary issues of criminal justice and racial bias make this an essential purchase." - starred review, School Library Journal
"A sensitive coming-of-age tale about waking up to injustice and where that knowledge can lead." - Kirkus Reviews
"Timely and relevant." - The Horn Book Magazine
"Successfully balances excitement with larger issues, ripe for classroom discussion." - Booklist
"Authentic . . . . Middle school worries and social issues skillfully woven into a moving, hopeful, STEM-related tale." - starred review, Kirkus Reviews on THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME
"Vivid characters and situations, along with clear, simple writing and plotting, make this an accessible and enlightening read. A gentle but truthful look at poverty and homelessness." - starred review, School Library Journal on THE EXACT LOCATION OF HOME
"An empathetic, beautiful, magical, fiercely necessary book that stares unflinchingly at the very real challenges contemporary kids face and gently assures them they are not alone. Kate Messner gives her readers a story to cherish." - Anne Ursu, author of BREADCRUMBS and THE REAL BOY on THE SEVENTH WISH
"Hopeful, empathetic, and unusually enlightening." - starred review, Kirkus Reviews on THE SEVENTH WISH
"Rich and daring . . . As she did in All the Answers, Messner lightens a heavy theme with a bit of magic." - Publishers Weekly on THE SEVENTH WISH
"It's no surprise that Kate Messner’s magic pen could write a charming, moving, funny, and ultimately very surprising story about a magic pencil!" - Wendy Mass, New York Times best selling author of 11 BIRTHDAYS on ALL THE ANSWERS
"Will appeal to Wendy Mass fans as well as those who love Messner’s previous novels." - School Library Journal on ALL THE ANSWERS
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Breakout tells the stories of Nora and Elidee as they muddle through a summer interrupted by a prison break (inspired by the real life prison break in upstate New York in 2015) and the realities of being who they are, where they are.
Through the use of a variety of text including prose, comic sketches, text messages, poetry, school announcements, letters, new stories, and conversations, Breakout shares a variety of perspectives that will encourage the reader to consider that what we see in front of us may not be the whole story.
My own sons, ages 10 and 13, enjoyed this book for many reasons, and I look forward to putting it in the hands of my students this fall. Given the format of the book and the fact that it hits on a topic that is generally unexplored in MG lit, I expect it to be a huge hit! Thank you, Kate Messner!
Perhaps Kate will give us another story someday with Nora, Lizzie and Elidee, three tough, vulnerable, funny, young women.