Monday, September 24, 2012

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Jolted

Today’s pick: Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival by Arthur Slade

HarperCollins, 2008

Publisher’s Description:
For over two hundred years, everyone in the Starker family has died after being hit by lightning, leaving only two-- Great-Grandmother Enid, whose secret to a long life is to grumble about everything, and fourteen-year-old Newton. Determined to break the curse, he enrols in the Jerry Potts Academy of Higher Learning and Survival in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where students must navigate the outdoors, the very place Newton's mother warned him about.

Newton knows that information is power, and so he steadfastly follows his rules for survival. He obsessively checks weather reports before venturing anywhere. He never takes a bath or answers the phone during a lightning storm. But life slowly amps up, and before Newton knows it, he is weathering storms he can't control, including battling Violet Quon, who is equally resolved to get her picture up in the Hall of Heroes, and preparing for First Year Expedition, which is his chance to prove he's the ultimate survivor.

Newton's aiming for the sky... with potentially disastrous results.

My take:

This story for 11 to 14-year-olds is about a kid with a big problem: everyone who has died in his family has died by being struck by lightning. Newton’s family history makes it difficult for him to have a normal life, and he doesn’t have many friends. He’s an interesting character with a few quirks, such as an interest in cooking truffles, a pet pig and a father who lives in a concrete dome. In this story, Newton is at a special school to learn some survival skills in the hopes that he will be able to have a more normal life. There’s a lot of humour in this story as well as some touching moments as Newton gains new friendships, comes to terms with his mother’s death, and copes with his weather-related problems.
As a writer, this book gives me a great example of how to create an interesting character.

How I discovered this book:
 I found this book at my local library and I liked the title.

Other info:
Arthur Slade is a full-time writer living in Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Second Fiddle was chosen as an Indy Next Pick in the spring of 2011.
I previously posted on another of his novels, The HunchbackAssignments. The tone and subject of this one is very different, but I enjoyed them both.

Other books by this author include:
Draugr. Orca, 1997. (Northern Frights series)

The Haunting of Drang Island. Orca, 1998. (Northern Frights series)

The Loki Wolf. Orca, 2000. (Northern Frights series.).

John Diefenbaker: An Appointment with Destiny. XYZ, 2000. 

Dust. HarperCollins, 2001. 

Tribes. HarperCollins, 2002. 

Return of the Grudstone Ghosts. Coteau, 2002. (The Canadian Chills series).

Ghost Hotel. Coteau, 2004. (The Canadian Chills series).

Monsterology: Fabulous Lives of the Creepy, the Revolting and the Undead. Illustrated by Derek Mah. Tundra, 2005. 

Meguiddo's Shadow. HarperCollins, 2006.

Invasion of the IQ Snatchers. Coteau, 2007. (The Canadian Chills series). 

The Dark Deeps: The Hunchback Assignments II. HarperCollins, 2010.

Empire of Ruins: The Hunchback Assignments III. HarperCollins, 2011.

Island of Doom: The Hunchback Assignments IV. HarperCollins, 2012.

For more, visit Arthur Slade’s website.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was dreamed up by the incredible Shannon Messenger. Visit her blog for an up-to-date list of all the bloggers who are participating and posting about middle grade books today!


  1. I like the things that make this character stand out--the 3 quirks you listed. Interesting!

  2. What an interesting premise. I like books where characters have to make their own way.

  3. I had forgotten all about this book! Thanks for reminding me, Andrea. I read it years ago and enjoyed it, then it dropped off my radar. Previously, I had only read one book by Slade: DUST. And I was very impressed but more than a little creeped out by it. JOLTED was more fun.

  4. I enjoy your reviews, and your introductions to Canadian writers. This sounds like a very imaginative idea.


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