Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel...

How I Heard About It:  It was during a Nerdy Book Club party at NCTE that I first heard about this novel.  A group of us were talking about it and I put the title in the back of my mind to read in the future.  I was then at a Donalyn Miller workshop in early December and the title came up again.  My friend and I went to the showroom to buy a copy, ended up buying the wrong "Nest", and finally bought the correct copy a few days later.  I was warned not to read this book at night (and alone) and I can see why now that I'm done.  

What It Is About:  Steve has had anxiety in the past and thought he had put those worries behind him.  When his new baby brother is born with "problems", those anxieties return in full force.  His parents try to convince him that everything will be alright, but Steve hears their conversations about the baby, and knows things are not as they seem.  During his sleep, he begins to have conversations with a queen bee that is in full power of the "Nest" that is outside of Steve's home.  She tells him that everything will be fine with the baby because she is creating a new baby to replace the old one that isn't "well."  During the day Steve tries to be the brave older brother and understanding son, but during the night he escapes to the Nest to continue his conversations with the Queen Bee.  The more he interacts with the Bee, the more he is conflicted about what he wants to do.  He wants his new brother to be well, but isn't sure that the Queen's plan is the one he wants to follow.

What I Thought Of It:  Sometimes when I hear a lot about a book, it doesn't live up to the hype.  That did not happen with this story.  I began the book the other night and couldn't put it down.  It was like nothing else I have read.  There were times when the story was realistic fiction.  There were times when it was fantasy.  There were also times when it was a mystery/horror story.  It had everything.  During the reading I tried to figure out exactly what was truly going on, but I found this difficult to do.  Now that I'm done, I'm still not sure I know what everything meant.  It may actually take a second reading to figure it out.  The story was well written and there wasn't a word that wasn't necessary.  This book will be one that I won't soon forget.

Who Should Read It:  This isn't an easy question to answer.  When I first started the story, I thought I might use it for a read aloud with my fourth graders.  Now that I'm done, I'm not sure I would use it with this grade level.  I think it would be more appropriate for students in grades five and up.  It would actually be perfect for the middle-school reader.  The adult reader that enjoys reading middle-grade novels will find this a complete satisfying read.   Happy Reading!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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