Monday, September 24, 2018

BREAKOUT by Kate Messner

The unique way this story is told makes this an interesting read, but even more than that, it made me reflect on issues of race, discrimination and racial profiling.

Description from the publisher:

Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek--two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.

Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics--a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project--Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who's really welcome in the places we call home.

Breakout, written by Kate Messner, was published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books in 2018.

Why you want to read this book… 

This story hooks you with the mystery and tension of two escaped prisoners. As you read along, it becomes so much more than a prison break story because we get to know the characters in this small town and become invested in their friendships and conflicts. I loved the ingenious way the kids helped to bring in the criminals. 

One thing to keep in mind – this book took me longer to read than many other middle grade novels. But I’d definitely recommend it, and perhaps will even read it again to get a fuller appreciation of the different perspectives that are struggling against each other in this story.


Dear Library Board,
Enclosed is my contribution to the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project. This folder includes my letters as well as public documents and things I’ve collected from friends and family members, shared with permission.

If you’re a writer… 

This middle grade is unique in the way the story is completely told through notes, letters, news articles, text message transcripts, transcripts of recorded conversations, school announcements, drawings, and poems. There are probably more! I can’t even imagine all the work this took to create a coherent story.  Besides that, this story includes characters who are learning about their white privilege, struggling with it and trying to become more sensitive.  

Those inmates broke out, and it feels like everybody’s acting different now.

If you’re a teacher…

There is so much to discuss and talk about in this novel! A great book to read to start kids debating issues of fairness, prejudice, being an outsider, race, and reflecting on other people’s perspectives. This book also contains many different poetry styles that could be models for student writing.

We talk all the time about being a friendly, welcoming community, but Elidee doesn’t see us that way at all. And if people don’t feel welcome, then maybe we’re not as welcoming as we think.

Check out the trailer for this book!


  1. What a unique way to tell the story. Sounds like it deals with lot of heavy issues too.

  2. I really enjoyed your post about this book, Andrea. From an author's perspective, the format of the manuscript sounds intriguing with the use of news stories, text messages, etc. to tell the story. Thanks for sharing this with us for MMGM!

  3. I've been curious about this book ever since I heard Kate Messner's interview on The Yarn podcast a few months ago. Thanks for your review!

  4. Thanks for this review. You make this sound like a book I should read ASAP. I've read some other reviews of this, but this one is the one to get me to put it on my TBR list.

  5. I'm more a fan of traditional story telling, but you have me convinced to give this a go. So many topics rich for discussion for starters, and I may even learn something from the writing. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love how the author told this mystery. Very clever! I would have loved it as a teen, because I wrote for school newspapers and I loved a good mystery. Look forward to checking this book out!


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