Among the Barons (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

Among the Barons (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

4.5 145
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Luke is trying to survive in a world in which nothing is what it seems.

As a third child in a society that allows only two children per family, Luke Garner has been in hiding for most of his life. Now he has the freedom of a false identity, and he's finally settling into his new life as Lee Grant, a Baron (a member of the highest class of society).

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Luke is trying to survive in a world in which nothing is what it seems.

As a third child in a society that allows only two children per family, Luke Garner has been in hiding for most of his life. Now he has the freedom of a false identity, and he's finally settling into his new life as Lee Grant, a Baron (a member of the highest class of society). All that may change now, though, for the Grants have decided that Lee's younger brother, Smits, should join Luke at boarding school. Smits arrives with his hulking bodyguard, and each of them reveals in confidence that the other is a threat. Things become even more complicated for Luke when the Grants decide that both boys should return home, and Luke discovers that living among the Barons might be deadlier than he ever imagined.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Luke Garner, using the identity of Lee Grant (who died), is shocked when Lee's younger brother suddenly arrives at his school. "Fans of the Shadow Children series will welcome this fourth title," said PW. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In this fourth book in Haddix's "Shadow Children" series, Luke must navigate the dangers that come with being who and what he is. Luke is a "third child" in a society whose laws forbid having more than two children. Feeling relatively happy and safe, Luke is enrolled at the Hendricks School for Boys under the name of Lee Grant, a Baron child whose identity was donated at his death to help third children like Luke. Trouble comes to the school in the form of Smits Grant, the real Lee's younger brother, and Smits' bodyguard, Oscar. Luke must be a brother to a boy lost in grief but unable to publicly grieve. When both boys are recalled from school, Luke meets "his" parents and wonders just why the Grants would want him in their home. What is the Grants' plan for Luke? How does Smits really feel about Luke/Lee? How did the real Lee die, and what role does Oscar play in this twisted family reunion? Readers will love this sequel to Among the Hidden, Among the Imposters, and Among the Betrayed, and will anxiously await another installment from master storyteller Haddix. 2003, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers,
— Katie Preissner
In a badly overpopulated world, it is illegal for parents to have more than two babies, and the Population Police seek out and execute hidden third children. Nonetheless, the corrupt ruling class, the Barons, live in palatial splendor. In this, the fourth installment in Haddix's Shadow Children series, Luke Garner, one of these third children, attends a boarding school under the assumed name of a dead Baron teenager, Lee Grant. Unbeknownst to the outside world, all of the boys at this school are third children who have taken on other identities. Rescued from cellars and attics, they have lived safely for some time, but when a new child enters the school, he turns everything upside down. Smits Grant is the deeply disturbed younger son of the rich Barons whose name Luke has assumed, and it is unclear whether Smits is stable enough to keep up the charade that Luke is his brother. After a fire is set in Smits's room, the Grants unaccountably insist that both of their supposed children return home to their mansion. Meeting the people whose name he bears for the first time while still pretending to be their son, Luke immediately finds himself up to his ears in a complex plot to overthrow the corrupt government of the Barons. As with the earlier books in the series, Haddix manages to generate a fair amount of suspense and mystery, but her world never becomes believable and her character development remains on the thin side. VOYA CODES: 3Q 3P M (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Simon & Schuster, 182p,
— Michael Levy
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-In this fourth installment of a series about a society that allows only two children per family, Luke Garner is finally adjusting to his new life at Hendricks School as Lee Grant. While the Grants belong to the highest class of society called the Barons, Luke avoids snobbish affectations and befriends his classmates, who are also illegal thirds. When the real Lee Grant's younger brother arrives at the school, along with his fierce body guard, Luke worries that Smits will expose him to the government. However, Smits has come to enlist Luke's help in discovering how his older brother really died, suspecting that he was murdered. The intrigue and danger grow more acute when both boys are called "home" and Luke discovers that the Grants have plans for him that could turn out to be fatal. As in the previous books, characters who seem honest turn out to be dangerous while others who seem suspicious end up as allies. The climax hints at a further installment. Fans of the series are the most likely audience for this story of Luke's continuing struggle to survive.-Farida S. Dowler, formerly at Bellevue Regional Library, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Demco Media
Publication date:
Shadow Children Series, #4
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x (h) x (d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed teen and middle-grade novels, all published by S&S. She lives in Powell, Ohio, with her husband and two children. A graduate of Miami University (of Ohio), she worked for several years as a reporter for The Indianapolis News. She also taught at the Danville (Illinois) Area Community College. She lives with her family in Columbus, Ohio.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Hey, L.! Mr. Hendricks wants to see you!"

Such a summons would have terrified Luke Garner only a few months earlier. When he'd first come to Hendricks School for Boys, the thought of having to talk to any grown-up, let alone the headmaster, would have turned him into a stammering, quaking fool desperately longing for a place to hide.

But that was back in April, and this was August. A lot had happened between April and August.

Now Luke just waved off the rising tide of "ooh's" from his friends in math class.

"What'd you do, L.? Have you been sneaking out to the woods again?" his friend John taunted him.

"Settle down, class," the teacher, Mr. Rees, said mildly. "You may be excused, Mr., uh, Mr...."

Luke didn't wait for Mr. Rees to try to remember his name. Names were slippery things at Hendricks School anyway. Luke, like all his friends, was registered under a different name from what he had grown up with. So it was always hard to know what to call people.

Luke edged his way past his classmates' desks and slipped out the door. His friend Trey, who had delivered the message from Mr. Hendricks, was waiting for him.

"What's this about?" Luke asked as the two fell into step together, walking down the hall.

"I don't know. I just do what he tells me," Trey said with a dispirited shrug.

Sometimes Luke wanted to take Trey by the shoulders, shake him, and yell, "Think for yourself! Open your eyes! Live a little!" Twelve years of hiding in a tiny room had turned Trey into a human turtle, always ready to pull back into his shell at the slightest hint of danger.

But Mr. Hendricks had taken a liking to Trey and was working with him privately. Thatwas why Trey was running errands for him today.

Trey looked furtively over at Luke. His dark hair hung down into his eyes. "Do you suppose it's -- you know -- time?"

Luke didn't have to ask what Trey meant. Sometimes it seemed like everyone at Hendricks School was just holding his breath, waiting. Waiting for a day when none of the boys would be illegal anymore, when they could all reclaim their rightful names, when they could go back to their rightful families without fear that the Population Police would catch them. But both Luke and Trey knew that that day wouldn't come easily. And Luke, at least, had promised to do everything he could to bring it about.

His stomach churned. The fear he thought he'd outgrown reached him at last.

"Did he say...did Mr. Hendricks say...," he stammered. What if Mr. Hendricks had a plan for Luke to help with? What if that plan required more courage than Luke had?

Trey went back to looking down at the polished tile floor.

"Mr. Hendricks didn't say anything except, 'Go get your buddy L. out of math class and tell him to come see me,'" Trey said.

"Oh," Luke said.

They reached the end of the hall, and Luke pushed open the heavy wood door to the outside. Trey winced, as he always did anytime he was exposed to sunshine, fresh air, or anything else outdoors. But Luke breathed in gratefully. Luke had spent his first twelve years on his family's farm; some of his fondest memories involved the feeling of warm dirt on his bare feet, sunshine on the back of his neck, a hoe in his hand -- and his parents and brothers around him.

But it didn't do to think much about his parents and brothers anymore. When he'd accepted his fake identity, he'd had to leave them and the farm behind. And even when he'd been with them, he'd had to live like a shadow or a ghost, something no one else outside the family knew about.

Once when his middle brother, Mark, was in first grade, he'd accidentally slipped and mentioned Luke's name at school.

"I had to tell the teacher that Mark just had an imaginary friend named Luke," Luke's mother had told him. "But I worried about that for months afterward. I was so scared the teacher would report you, and the Population Police would come and take you away. I'm just glad that a lot of little kids do have imaginary friends."

She'd bitten her lip telling Luke that story. Luke could still see the strained expression on her face. She hadn't even told him about that episode until the day before he left the farm and his family for good. By then she'd meant the story as assurance, he knew -- assurance that he was doing the right thing by leaving.

At the time, Luke hadn't known what to make of that story. It just added to the jumble of confused thoughts and fears in his head. But now -- now that story made him angry. It wasn't fair that he'd had to be invisible. It wasn't fair that his brother couldn't talk about him. It wasn't fair that the Government had made him illegal simply because he was a third child and the Government thought families should have no more than two.

Luke stepped out into the sunshine feeling strangely happy to be so angry. It felt good to be so sure about what he thought, so totally convinced that he was right and the Government was wrong. And if Mr. Hendricks really did have a plan for Luke, it'd be good to hang on to this righteous anger.

The two boys climbed down an imposing number of marble steps. Luke noticed that Trey glanced back longingly at the school more than once. Not Luke. Hendricks had no windows -- to accommodate the fears of kids like Trey -- and Luke always felt slightly caged anytime he was inside.

They walked on down the lane to a house half hidden in bushes. Mr. Hendricks was waiting for them at the door.

"Come on in," he said heartily to Luke. "Trey, you can go on back to school and see about learning something for once." That was a joke -- Trey had done nothing but read while he'd been in hiding, so he knew as much about some subjects as the teachers did.

Luke opened the door, and Mr. Hendricks rolled back in his wheelchair to give Luke room to pass. When he'd first met Mr. Hendricks, Luke had been awkward around him, particularly because of the wheelchair. But now Luke practically forgot that Mr. Hendricks's lower legs were missing. Going into the living room, Luke automatically stepped out of the way of Mr. Hendricks's wheels.

"The other boys will find this out soon enough," Mr. Hendricks said. "But I wanted to tell you first, to give you time to adjust."

"Adjust to what?" Luke asked, sitting down on a couch.

"Having your brother here at school with you."

"My brother?" Luke repeated. "You mean Matthew or Mark..." He tried to picture either of his rough, wild older brothers in their faded jeans and flannel shirts walking up the marble stairs at Hendricks. If he felt caged at the windowless school, his brothers would feel handcuffed, pinned down, thoroughly imprisoned. And how could Mother and Dad possibly afford to send them here? Why would they want to?

"No, Lee," Mr. Hendricks said, stressing the fake name that Luke had adopted when he'd come out of hiding. Luke knew that he should be grateful that the parents of a boy named Lee Grant had donated his name and identity after the real Lee died in a skiing accident. The Grants were Barons -- really rich people -- so Luke's new identity was an impressive one indeed. But Luke didn't like to be called Lee, didn't like even to be reminded that he was supposed to be somebody else.

Mr. Hendricks was peering straight at Luke, waiting for Luke to catch on.

"I said your brother," Mr. Hendricks repeated. "Smithfield William Grant. You call him Smits. And he's coming here tomorrow."

Copyright © 2003 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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