Monday, February 6, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Undergrounders

Today’s pick:  Undergrounders by David Skuy

Scholastic Canada, 2011
From the Book Jacket:

Ever since his mom died, Jonathon has been on his own, living on the streets. The Underground gives him a place to sleep, but it’s not like having a real home or being a regular kid. That seems like an impossible dream . . .

Jonathon has been living on the streets ever since his Mom died. He survives by earning a little money panhandling and running errands for tough guy Lewis. He shelters from the cold in an abandoned shopping mall, hanging out with a group of street kids called the “Undergrounders”. Then, while playing hockey with some stolen gear, Jonathon makes friends with some regular kids. It seems like a dream come true when they invite him to join their team. But now Jonathon has to find a way to keep his homelessness a secret so he can keep his place on the team.

My Take: 
This is a fast-paced story with lots of authentic hockey action. I’m not even a big hockey fan, but I got totally hooked by the strong voice and the details about Jonathon’s life as a street kid. I think boys will especially enjoy this book. Although I found the story a little predictable, I liked the way it made me think about a different way of life. From a writing perspective, I’d look more closely at this one to study how to create a believable first person voice. The way the author wove in Jonathon’s thoughts and emotions helped me lose myself in his story.

Other Info:
This book is nominated for the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading in the Silver Birch (Fiction) category for 2012. If you aren’t familiar with the Forest of Reading program, here’s how it works: Professionals from schools and public libraries nominate a selection of books in a specific category, students from all over the province read them all and then in April they vote for their favourite. Here’s my writing buddy Debbie Ridpath Ohi’s take on last year’s celebration.

Other books by this author include:
Off the Crossbar (Game Time #1)
Rebel Power Play (Game Time #2)
Making the Cut (Game Time #3)
Overtime (Game Time #4)

For more, go to David Skuy’s website.


  1. Sounds like a great connection for boys (and I know hockey in Canada is as big as it is here in Minnesota). And pitting that with the story of homelessness is intriguing.

  2. Thanks for sharing this series! Will be sure to check it out for myself and the library.

  3. I really like your book reviews. My goal is to read more middle grade novels.

  4. Andrea, I love learning more about Canadian authors. You have such a vibrant literary culture. This sounds like a great one for boys, and for writers trying to get the hang of 1st person. Thanks for spotlighting it.

  5. Intriguing storyline. I haven't heard of this book before, so thanks for the heads-up. I wonder if it's available here. My customers are always looking for sports novels and we have enough baseball, basketball, and football books.

  6. Hi Andrea, nice to meet you. This books sounds good. I like the premise a lot, though I am not a huge fan of hockey, the fast pace will make me put the book on my TBR pile.

  7. That's an intriguing story. Right away I want to know if Jonathon was able to keep his secret or what happened if not.
    Thanks for sharing.


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