- Age Range: 9 - 11 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 6
- Paperback: 221 pages
- Publisher: Spencer Hill Middle Grade (June 24, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1939392071
- ISBN-13: 978-1939392077
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,800,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Deadwood Paperback – June 24, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—It's a tradition in Lower Brynwood to carve a message into the bark of the 250-year-old Spirit Tree before a big football game. It's supposed to bring the players luck, but so far, it has done anything but. When Martin's military mom is assigned to a tour in Afghanistan, he is forced to temporarily move in with Aunt Michelle in Lower Brynwood. On one of his daily runs, he encounters a group of kids engaged in the carving ritual, and is horrified at the damage being done to the majestic tree. He causes quite a stir trying to stop it, and Hannah, a girl in his class, comes to his defense. As soon as the two are alone with the tree, it gets struck by lightning. It starts glowing from within, lighting up the carved letters in an attempt to communicate with them, and they discover that the tree has been cursed by the "bad one." Trees, plants, and people in Lower Brynwood are dropping like flies. The curse is going to destroy the town unless Martin and Hannah can stop it. While the mystery is not much of a mystery (the identity of the "bad one" is not hard to guess), the story is fun and engaging, and the characters have enough depth to make them interesting. The heavy-handedness of the environmental message detracts a little from the overall enjoyment, but budding tree huggers will love the sweet bond that forms between the kids and this unusual personification of Mother Nature.—Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX
"A nice mix of heart and humor. ... Give this one to middle grade readers who enjoy magical realism, or to anyone for whom the idea of talking with an ancient, enormous tree is irresistible." --Jen Robinson, Jen's Book Page
"...these two strong characters -- both of them sporty and clever, with diverse backgrounds -- can hold their own. Short chapters amp up the pace and hold attention, bolstering the story's wild suspense." --Foreword Magazine (Five-star review)
"...fabulous debut--well written, entertaining, thought-provoking and original!" --Cindy Pon, author of Silver Phoenix, Enchanted Inkpot
"... suspenseful and fast-paced ecological plot."--Mike Weilbacher, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Main Line Times
"Deadwood blends supernatural elements with an ecological message and some pretty typical middle school issues that most readers will identify with, like not being totally sure of who you are and how you fit in with the world around you ... A fun book with just enough creepiness to be exciting." --Amanda Valentine, Reads4Tweens
Top customer reviews
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I could lie and tell you that I picked this book to review just to read to my son at bedtime, but I totally wanted to read it for myself. Although we both enjoyed it, there were parts of it that were a little scary for him. It's a story that's more for readers who are better able to separate fiction from reality.
As a gamer, I was quickly drawn into the story. The story opens with Martin, stuck living with one of his relatives because his mom has been deployed to Afghanistan, wishing he could be online playing a RPG with his friends. He's not even allowed to play so he, instead, pretends to be his character from the game.
Toward the beginning you discover that the spirit tree, called that because the jocks carve their school spirit into it every year, is actually magical. It communicates with Martin and another kid his age, Hannah, telling them there's a curse and they need to break it to heal the town.
The use of magic mixed with technology was interesting, as the spirit tree used text messages to communicate with the children. I also enjoyed when the focus of the story went to the tree, telling part of the story from it's perspective.
I highly recommend this book, and it's a wonderful read for middle graders.
He did say it was pretty realistic in that it seemed that Martin was portrayed as a real kid. For example, Martin always worried about his mom in Afghanistan. He also would pretend to use his iPod even though it was broken to avoid talking to anybody. There were realistic consequences to his actions and things didn’t always go as you thought they would. The small-town politics rang true to what we have experienced, not what everybody seems to think happens in small towns.
Overall, Chris and the kids enjoyed this Deadwood. If there were to be a sequel, they would want to know more about Martin’s adventures and therefore would want to read the book.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.
Martin is a strong, determined teen who was sent to live with his mother's cousin while she's deployed. Martin does his best to stay out of his "Aunt" Michele's way, and tries to get by on her strict regimes of eating healthy and living life to their full "brain-power" potential. He's a runner and trains as often as he can, determined to complete any marathon as long as his mother can do it with him.
On his first run through Lower Brynwood aka Deadwood, he runs into a group of people performing a school ritual on a tree. He is angered that they've been damaging this poor tree for many years and tries to stop it - but what can one little teen do against a whole high school football team?
After they're done, Martin is left alone with the tree and meets Hannah. Hannah is a tomboyish girl who has lived in Lower Brynwood her whole life and knows all about the Spirit Tree and most of what happens in the town. While they're standing under the tree, an unexpected storm drops in and lightening hits the tree. While they stare at the tree and watch it light up from the inside, the carvings start to light up, letter by letter, delivering a message to them. An unbelievable scary message - the town is cursed.
Against their will, Martin and Hannah team up to figure out the Spirit Tree's message, why its dying? Why are there other trees in the town are dying too? Why is the town and its occupants are cursed?
The story is told from three different perspectives, Martin's, Hannah's and the Spirit Tree. Reading from the tree's perspective was extremely interesting, it gives insight to how a tree would view its surroundings and history. I really enjoyed that aspect a lot.
The perfect blend of relatable contemporary, supernatural elements, mystery and environmental awareness - an amazing middle grade book for all ages to read!
(I received this paperback from the publisher for an honest review. My thoughts are my own.)