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Annotation: This coming-of-age story recounts the experiences of middle-schoolers Nora, a budding journalist, and Elidee, whose brother is incarcerated, as they cope with the upheaval of a local prison break while working on a time-capsule project.
Catalog Number: #160422
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 441 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-681-19536-4 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-1160-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-681-19536-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-1160-9
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017034344
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
When two inmates escape from Wolf Creek's maximum-security prison, the usually sleepy town becomes the setting of a 16-day manhunt. Messner creatively packages her scrapbook-style story as an entry for a community time capsule, compiling letters and other documents from three seventh-grade girls, whose individual perspectives and personalities are clearly reflected. Spearheading the endeavor is Nora, aspiring journalist and daughter of the prison superintendent, who writes news articles on the town's unfolding drama. Her friend Lizzie, future mathematician or comedian, contributes parody news pieces, infographics, and transcribed conversations from around town. Most compelling, however, is Elidee, the new girl and one of only two black kids in the seventh grade. Her writing includes unsent letters to her brother in Wolf Creek's prison and poetry styled after writers she admires: Nikki Giovanni, Nikki Grimes, Jacqueline Woodson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Elidee gracefully deals with residents' ignorance and prejudice, opening Nora's eyes to issues like racism, police bias, and white privilege. Fast-moving but occasionally repetitive, the story successfully balances excitement with larger issues, ripe for classroom discussion.
Kirkus Reviews
Seen through the eyes of three seventh-graders, a prison escape upends daily life in a small Adirondack town.Wolf Creek's economy revolves around its maximum security prison. Nora's dad is its superintendent; Lizzie's grandma works in the kitchen; Elidee's brother is an inmate. Nora and Lizzie, white, are best friends. Arriving in this very white town with her mother two weeks before school ends, Elidee, black, feels isolated. She and her mother only moved to Wolf Creek because she didn't get into an elite private school back in New York City. Nora first finds her unfriendly. Elidee's reluctance to join in shows of support for the corrections staff, police, and volunteers engaged in the manhunt affronts her. With Lizzie's help she opens her eyes to the slights, subtle and overt, Elidee endures from some local whites. Most townspeople and prison staff are white; most inmates are black and Latinx. The manhunt broadens, reaching Lizzie's family and severely straining it. Elidee pours her anger and unhappiness into writing poetry, discovering her authentic voice. The story unfolds in time-capsule entries. Press clippings, text messages, and voice recordings effectively convey the racism hiding in plain sight, while the girls' letters provide the narrative throughline. Not all entries work—Owen's repetitive cartoons add little—but the format underlines the breakout's communitywide impact. A sensitive coming-of-age tale about waking up to injustice and where that knowledge can lead. (author's note, bibliography) (Fiction. 9-14)
Publishers Weekly
In Wolf Creek, a small town in upstate New York, middle school students learn that they-ll develop a time capsule project as a summer letter-writing assignment. Best friends Nora and Lizzie, as well as new girl Elidee, imagine sharing tales of ice cream and swimming. But after two inmates escape from the local maximum-security prison, where Nora-s father is the superintendent and Elidee-s brother is an inmate, a new side of the friendly community is slowly revealed. Elidee-s experience of racism as one of the only black people in town makes Nora and Lizzie rethink just how welcoming Wolf Creek is. Narrated by all three girls through letters, recorded conversations, and texts, this is 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 (The Exact Location of Home) shines a light on the ways that people are blind to their own privilege while quick to judge others. Though the look at societal racism, as in the prison system, is well explained, it-s the racism Nora and Lizzie discover in themselves, and their desire to change it, that will linger with readers. Ages 10-14. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (June)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 46 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
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
School Library Journal Starred Review (2/1/18)
ALA Booklist (3/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 438-441).
Word Count: 62,430
Reading Level: 5.4
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.4 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 195298 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.5 / points:14.0 / quiz:Q73541
Lexile: 840L

When two inmates break out of the maximum security prison in Nora Tucker's town's, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. This thrilling novel is told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics--documents Nora collects for a community time capsule.

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