Monday, January 20, 2014

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: Ultra

Today’s Pick: Ultra

by David Carroll

Scholastic Canada, 2013

From Amazon:

A young ultra-marathon runner is pushed to the breaking point and beyond in this gripping tale of physical endurance and emotional healing.

Quinn has been called a superhero and a freak of nature. At age 13, he's an amazing distance runner. He takes on the second-hardest challenge of his life when he enters his first ultramarathon: a grueling 100-mile, 24-hour-long race that will push him to the very limit of his endurance.

While Quinn struggles to go on — up a mountain and through the night, as his muscles break down and he begins to hallucinate — we learn why the ultra-marathon is only the second hardest thing he has endured in his young life. And maybe this devastating event from his past is exactly what Quinn has been running from . . 

My Take:

I’m not a big fan of sports-related books, but Ultra is an emotional story that made me cry. I can relate to the idea of not giving up on something, even though you face challenges. I especially liked the relationship between Quinn and his little brother Ollie. This is another story with a family trying to get through a difficult time.  

The story is structured as a transcript of an interview between Quinn and a TV talk show host, which was an interesting way to present the story.

Opening Line:

“QUINN: I still don’t get why it was such a big deal. All kids like to run.”


“I felt totally out of control, charging downhill at death-defying angles, my legs running faster than the rest of my body could keep up.”

“I think the real surprises are things we learn about ourselves.”

“A spear of ice shot through my heart. I was all alone. In a forest. In the middle of the night. And I was lost.”

Other Info:

In addition to being a writer, David Carroll is an ultra marathon runner and a producer for CBC radio.

On his blog, he gives some great advice about rejections:  “If you’re going to be a writer, you’ll have to deal with rejection at some point.  But you can view these rejections in one of two ways:
1) You can see them as stop signs.  As brick walls.
2) Or you can see them as an invitation to keep pushing.”

Ultra is a finalist for the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Awards in the Silver Birch category, and it is a finalist for the CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards) in the Middle Grade Fiction category.

For more info, visit David Carroll’s website.

You can find more Marvelous Middle Grade Monday books by checking out Shannon Messenger’s blog! Shannon is the founder of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday and the author of the middle grade novels, Keeper of the Lost Cities and Exile (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2).


  1. I'm not a sports book fan either but I think kids can relate to them. This sounds like a pretty good one. Thanks for sharing about it.

  2. How intriguing -- his ultra marathon is only the second hardest things he's endured!

  3. I am reading this for the Cybils, Andrea--and it made me cry too. A wonderful novel!

  4. Sounds intense but interesting. Love that first quote, especially. That's exactly what it feels like to run downhill at full speed.

  5. We shortlisted for the cybils, Andrea. So glad you loved it. Such a good book!

  6. Um, and yes I see that you know we shortlisted....!


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