Sunday, September 14, 2014

Book talk: The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

Imagine you are going to ride the longest train in the world -- the Boundless: she's seven miles long and holds over six thousand passengers. Think about it: seven miles long. There are entire cities shorter than that! Anyhow, some people claim the Boundless is too big, and there's one creepy fact you should know: she carries her dead founder's coffin in a locked and guarded room. Creepy, huh?

Will is our young hero, and he needs to get into that locked coffin room. His family used to be poor, but thanks to the Boundless and its creator, they are now rich. Life is good.

Did I just say Will's life was good? Strike that. At one point, he got off the Boundless, went into the woods, and barely made it back to the departing train -- he got on the caboose on the very end. So why is that a problem? First of all, the Boundless is seven miles long, and it's not easy to travel between cars. Many of them are locked, and there are different classes of passengers on the train: the rich are at the front, the middle class are somewhere in the middle, and the poor are crammed together in over-crowded cars at the end. Will's dad is at the front, and Will is at the very back.

Will stinks, and there are men on board trying to kill him. He stinks because he doused himself with the urine -- that's pee -- of a supposed sasquatch, a huge, monstrous, ape-like creature. That stuff stinks. The men trying to kill him stink as well, only not literally. What kind of a crazy train is this? Read Kenneth Oppel's The Boundless to find out.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel. Simon & Schuster, 2014. Booktalk to grades 5-9.