Among the Impostors (Shadow Children Series #2) [NOOK Book]

Overview

It was awful. All those eyes, all looking at him. It was straight out of Luke's worst nightmares. Panic rooted him to the spot, but every muscle in his body was screaming for him to run, to hide anywhere he could. For twelve years his entire life he'd had to hide. To be seen was death. "Don't!" he wanted to scream. "Don't look at me! Don't report me! Please!" But the muscles that controlled his mouth were as frozen as the rest of him. The tiny part of his mind that wasn't flooded with panic knew that that was ...
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Among the Impostors (Shadow Children Series #2)

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Overview

It was awful. All those eyes, all looking at him. It was straight out of Luke's worst nightmares. Panic rooted him to the spot, but every muscle in his body was screaming for him to run, to hide anywhere he could. For twelve years his entire life he'd had to hide. To be seen was death. "Don't!" he wanted to scream. "Don't look at me! Don't report me! Please!" But the muscles that controlled his mouth were as frozen as the rest of him. The tiny part of his mind that wasn't flooded with panic knew that that was good -- now that he had a fake I.D., the last thing he should do was act like a boy who's had to hide. But to act normal, he needed to move, to obey the man at the front and sit down. And he couldn't make his body do that, either. -- from Among the Impostors

Luke Garner is terrified.
Out of hiding for the first time in his life, he knows that any minute one of his new classmates at Hendricks School for Boys could discover his secret: that he's a third child passing as the recently deceased Lee Grant. And in a society where it's illegal for families to have more than two children, being a third child means certain death at the hands of the dreaded Population Police.
His first experience outside the safety of his home is bewildering. There's not a single window anywhere in the school; Luke can't tell his classmates apart (even as they subject him to brutal hazing); and the teachers seem oblivious to it all.
Desperate to fit in, Luke endures the confusion and teasing until he discovers an unlocked door to the outside, and a chance to understand what is really going on. But to take this chance -- to find out the secrets of Hendricks -- Luke will need to put aside his fears and discover a courage that a lifetime in hiding couldn't thwart.
Once again, best-selling author Margaret Peterson Haddix delights her fans with this spine-tingling account of an all-too-possible future. Among the Impostors is a worthy companion to Among the Hidden and a heart-stopping thriller in its own right.

In a future where the law limits a family to only two children, third-born Luke has been in hiding for the entire twelve years of his life, until he enters boarding school under an assumed name and is forced to face his fears.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This sequel to Among the Hidden picks up with Luke finally out of hiding and going to boarding school under an assumed identity. "While Haddix is often able to capture the suspense of her earlier work," wrote PW, "this installment gets mired in too many confusing details." Ages 9-14. (Oct.)
Children's Literature
Luke is a "third child" in a society whose laws forbid having more than two children. All of his life Luke's family has hidden him from the Population Police, a story that was introduced Haddix' previous book, Among the Hidden. In this sequel, Luke enrolls under a fake name at Hendricks School for Boys where he is confused, hazed and terrified, until he finds an unlocked door to the outside. Luke was raised on a farm and loves gardening and the outdoors, unlike others in his prison-like new home, where he can trust no one. The disquieting message of governmental control of population due to food shortages creates a suspense-filled plot that should fully engage readers in Luke's plight and outrage at being estranged from the world. In the end, Luke's strength of conviction to defy the odds bursts through the complex web of secrecy and deceit he finds at the school. Luke is heroic as he finds the solution to his dream¾helping other third children like himself to live a more meaningful life. This is a real page-turner;one that may challenge young readers to look at the odds as they try to make a difference in their own world. 2001, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $16.00. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer:Elaine Wick
VOYA
Luke Garner has been accustomed to the open spaces of his family's farm when not hiding from the Population Police. In a time when food and other resources are limited, it is against the law to have more than two children. After his parents broke the government's rule by having a third child, it eventually becomes too dangerous for Luke's family to keep him home. It is decided that he will attend an exclusive boys' school under the assumed name of Lee Grant. Hendricks School for Boys becomes a windowless prison where Luke submits to nightly hazing from one of the students he secretly refers to as "Jackal Boy." Luke notices that all the boys, afraid of the hall monitors and teachers, follow orders, keep their eyes lowered, and move as one throughout the school as they go to and from classes, meals, or indoctrination sessions. After Luke finds a door left open, he begins to make secret trips to the nearby woods. When he stumbles upon a secret meeting of boys and girls planning an escape from Hendricks and the neighboring girls' school, Luke is forced to make some life-threatening decisions about trusting other people and himself. Haddix successfully builds the tension and excitement in this quick-moving, easy-to-read sequel to Among the Hidden (Simon & Schuster, 1998/VOYA October 1998), the story of Luke's early life living in constant fear of being found. Although abrupt, the satisfactory ending will have middle and junior high school readers eagerly hoping for the next installment in Luke's thought-provoking story. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001,Simon & Schuster, 176p, $16. Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Brenda Moses-Allen SOURCE: VOYA, August 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 3)
From The Critics
In this sequel to Among the Hidden, Luke Garner, a third child born under the a futuristic government that allows two children per family, has been placed at the Hendricks School for Boys under an assumed name. The other boys mistreat Luke, who longs to read the final message given to him by Jen's father, hoping it will provide comfort. It doesn't. Luke looks for another way to feel solace and discovers an open door. Once outdoors, Luke remembers his days at his parents' farm and starts a garden. When he finds it ruined, he begins to look at the other boys and discovers they are strange. Only a few of them look him in the eye. Determined to solve the mystery of who ruined the garden, Luke discovers a group of boys and girls meeting in the woods. They are also third children, but Luke doesn't trust them completely. Is he justified in his mistrust? Could these boys have anything to do with the Population Police? This novel answers some questions posed by the author's first book, but leaves many more, which logically point to a third book in this series. Young readers will enjoy the story as they ponder the implications of living in such a society. 2001, Simon & Schuster, 172 pp.,
— Lu Ann Staheli
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Luke, a third child, hides quietly in his house, eluding the Population Police because he lives in a society in which families are only allowed two children. Now he has a chance to come out of the shadows by taking on an assumed identity and leaving home. This sequel to Among the Hidden (S & S, 1998) has Luke, now Lee, entering the Hendricks School for boys and a completely new existence where he feels lost and confused by his surroundings. He has gone from a furtive solitary existence to one in which he is never alone, from being desperate for company to being hazed by his classmates, particularly his roommate, "the Jackal." Lee learns to cope with the changes before him by escaping through the door to the outside. The story is artfully told with suspense and interesting twists. As Lee's confusion dissipates, readers begin to see what is going on. Lee is a fully realized character, developing courage and a true sense of self. Peripheral characters are not as fully developed, serving solely to further the story. Repeated references to Jen, another third child from the first book and martyr to all third children, may cause readers to wonder what they have missed. By the end of the story, the main character evolves into "L" and the author has created the possibility for another sequel. This compelling read can be enjoyed alone but it's sure to leave readers wanting to know the whole story.-Susan M. Moore, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The unsettling, futuristic totalitarian society created in Among the Hidden (1998) continues in this equally compelling sequel. Having decided in the first novel to leave his family to attend school in the outside world, Luke Garner, an illegal third child in a world where food is scarce and only two children are accepted, begins this story with his arrival at a private boys' school for elite "Barons." With a fake ID obtained by a mole in the Population Police, Luke assumes the name Lee Grant. Although the story starts off slowly, the suspenseful plot picks up rapidly as Luke tries to blend in and adjusts to his new life away from his family and among strangers. He is quick to notice the odd behavior of the other boys and the strange arrangement of the school itself; he soon discovers that other "shadow" children like him attend the school and crashes one of their secret meetings. The height of the story reveals Population Police undercover agents disguised as students and Luke's attempt to save himself and the other shadow children. Luke is exposed to the truth behind the school and the adults who help run it, and must ultimately make another life decision. Thought-provoking issues, such as a government with too much power, raised in the first novel, as well as Luke's determination to change the world, carry on throughout this impressive sequel. In the end, Haddix leaves readers longing for more about Luke Garner. (Fiction. 9-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689848087
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 12/21/2001
  • Series: Shadow Children Series , #2
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 15,528
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 620L (what's this?)
  • File size: 843 KB

Meet the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including The Missing series and the Shadow Children series. 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. Visit her at HaddixBooks.com.
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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

Sometimes he whispered his real name in the dark, in the middle of the night.

"Luke. My name is Luke."

He was sure no one could hear. His roommates were all asleep, and even if they weren't, there was no way the sound of his name could travel even the short distance to the bed above or beside him. He was fairly certain there were no bugs on him or in his room. He'd looked. But even if he'd missed seeing a microphone hidden in a mattress button or carved into the headboard, how could a microphone pick up a whisper he could barely hear himself?

He was safe now. Lying in bed, wide awake while everyone else slept, he reassured himself of that fact constantly. But his heart pounded and his face went clammy with fear every time he rounded his lips for that "u" sound -- instead of the fake smile of the double "e" in Lee, the name he had to force himself to answer to now.

It was better to forget, to never speak his real name again.

But he'd lost everything else. Even just mouthing his name was a comfort. It seemed like his only link now to his past, to his parents, his brothers.

To Jen.

By day, he kept his mouth shut.

He couldn't help it.

That first day, walking up the stairs of the Hendricks School for Boys with Jen's father, Luke had felt his jaw clench tighter and tighter the closer he got to the front door.

"Oh, don't look like that," Mr. Talbot had said, pretending to be jolly. "It's not reform school or anything."

The word stuck in Luke's brain. Reform. Re-form. Yes, they were going to re-form him. They were going to take a Luke and make him a Lee.

It was safe to be Lee. It wasn't safe to be Luke.

Jen's father stood with his hand on the ornate doorknob, waiting for a reply. But Luke couldn't have said a word if his life depended on it.

Jen's father hesitated, then pulled on the heavy door. They walked down a long hallway. The ceiling was so far away, Luke thought he could have stood his entire family on his shoulders -- one on top of the other, Dad and Mother and Matthew and Mark -- and the highest one still would barely touch. The walls were lined, floor to ceiling, with old paintings of people in costumes Luke had never seen outside of books.

Of course, there was very little he'd ever seen outside of books.

He tried not to stare, because if he really were Lee, surely everything would look familiar and ordinary. But that was hard to remember. They passed a classroom where dozens of boys sat in orderly rows, everyone facing away from the door. Luke gawked for so long that he practically began walking backwards. He'd known there were a lot of people in the world, but he'd never been able to imagine so many all in one place at the same time. Were any of them shadow children with fake identities, like Luke?

Jen's father clapped a hand on his shoulder, turning him around.

"Ah, here's the headmaster's office," Mr. Talbot said heartily. "Just what we were looking for."

Luke nodded, still mute, and followed him through a tall doorway.

A woman sitting behind a mammoth wood desk turned their way. She took one look at Luke and asked, "New boy?"

"Lee Grant," Jen's father said. "I spoke with the master about him last night."

"It's the middle of the semester, you know," she said warningly. "Unless he's very well prepared, he shan't catch up, and might have to repeat -- "

"That won't be a problem," Mr. Talbot assured her. Luke was glad he didn't have to speak for himself. He knew he wasn't well prepared. He wasn't prepared for anything.

The woman was already reaching for files and papers.

"His parents faxed in his medical information and his insurance standing and his academic records last night," she said. "But someone needs to sign these -- "

Jen's father took the stack of papers as if he autographed other people's documents all the time.

Probably he did.

Luke watched Mr. Talbot flip through the papers, scrawling his name here, crossing out a word or a phrase or a whole paragraph there. Luke was sure Jen's father was going too fast to actually read any of it.

And that was when the homesickness hit Luke for the first time. He could just picture his own father peering cautiously at important papers, reading them over and over before he even picked up a pen. Luke could see his father's rheumy eyes squinted in concentration, his brow furrowed with anxiety.

He was always so afraid of being tricked.

Maybe Jen's father didn't care.

Luke had to swallow hard then. He made a gulping noise, and the woman looked at him. Luke couldn't read her expression. Curiosity? Contempt? Indifference?

He didn't think it was sympathy.

Jen's father finished then, handing the papers back to the woman with a flourish.

"I'll call a boy to show you your room," the woman said to Luke.

Luke nodded. The woman leaned over a box on her desk and said, "Mr. Dirk, could you send Rolly Sturgeon to the office?"

Luke heard a roar along with the man's reply, "Yes, Ms. Hawkins," as if all the boys in the school were laughing and cheering and hissing at once. Luke felt his legs go weak with fear. When this Rolly Sturgeon showed up, Luke wasn't sure he'd be able to walk.

"Well, I'll be off," Jen's father said. "Duty calls."

He stuck out his hand and after a moment Luke realized he was supposed to shake it. But he'd never shaken hands with anyone before, so he put out the wrong hand first. Jen's father frowned, moving his head violently side to side, and glaring pointedly at the woman behind the desk. Fortunately, she wasn't watching. Luke recovered. He clumsily touched his hand to Jen's father's.

"Good luck," Jen's father said, bringing his other hand up to Luke's, too.

Only when Mr. Talbot had pulled both hands away did Luke realize he'd placed a tiny scrap of paper between Luke's fingers. Luke held it there until the woman turned her back. Then he slid it into his pocket.

Jen's father smiled.

"Keep those grades up," he said. "And no running away this time, you hear?"

Luke gulped again, and nodded. And then Jen's father left without a backward glance.

Copyright © 2001 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Chapter Two

Luke wanted to read the note from Mr. Talbot right away. He was sure it would tell him everything -- everything he needed to know to survive Hendricks School for Boys. No -- to survive anything that might come his way in this new life, outside hiding.

It was just one thin scrap of paper. Now that it was in his pocket, Luke couldn't even feel it there. But he had faith. Jen's father had hidden Luke from the Population Police, double-crossing his own employer. He'd gotten Luke his fake I.D., so he could move about as freely as anyone else, anyone who wasn't an illegal third child. Jen's father had risked his career helping Luke. No, it was more than that -- he'd risked his life. Surely Mr. Talbot would have written something incredibly wise.

Luke slid his hand into his pocket, his fingertips touching the top of the note. Ms. Hawkins was looking away. Maybe --

The door opened behind Luke. Luke jerked his hand out of his pocket.

"Scared you, didn't I?" a boy jeered. "Made you jump."

Luke was used to being teased. He had older brothers, after all. But Matthew and Mark's teasing never sounded quite so mean. Still, Luke knew he had to answer.

"Sure. I'm jumpy like a cat," Luke started to say. It was an expression of his mother's. Being cat-jumpy was good. Like being quick on his feet.

Just in time, Luke remembered he couldn't mention cats. Cats were illegal, too, outlawed because they might take food that was supposed to go to starving humans. Back home, Luke had seen wild cats a few times, stalking the countryside. Dad had liked having them around because they ate rats and mice that might eat his grain. But if Luke were really Lee Grant, filthy-rich city boy, he wouldn't know a thing about cats, jumpy or otherwise.

He clamped his mouth shut, closing off his "Sure -- " in a wimpy hiss. He kept his head down, too scared to look the other boy right in the eye.

The boy laughed, cruelly. He looked past Luke, to Ms. Hawkins.

"What's wrong with him?" the boy asked, as if Luke weren't even there. "Can't talk or something?"

Luke wanted Ms. Hawkins to stick up for him, to say, "He's just new. Don't you remember what that's like?" But she wasn't even paying attention. She frowned at the boy.

"Rolly, take him to room one fifty-six. There's an empty bed in there. Just put his suitcase down. Don't waste time unpacking. Then take him back to Mr. Dirk's history class with you. He's already behind. Lord knows what his parents were thinking."

Rolly shrugged and turned around.

"I did not dismiss you!" Ms. Hawkins shrieked.

"May I be dismissed?" Rolly asked mockingly.

"That's better," Ms. Hawkins said. "Now, get. Go on with you."

Luke picked up his suitcase and followed, hoping Rolly's request for dismissal would work for both of them. Either it did, or Ms. Hawkins didn't care.

In the hallway, Rolly took big steps. He was a good head taller than Luke, and had longer legs. It was all Luke could do to keep up, what with the suitcase banging against his ankles.

Rolly looked back over his shoulder, and started walking faster. He raced up a long stairway. By the time Luke reached the top, Rolly was nowhere in sight.

"Boo!"

Rolly leaped out from behind the newel post. Luke jumped so high, he lost his balance and teetered on the edge of the stairs. Rolly reached out, and Luke thought, See, he's not so bad. He's going to catch me. But Rolly pushed instead. Luke fell backwards. He might have tumbled down all the stairs, except that Rolly's push was crooked, and Luke landed on the railing. Pain shot through his back.

Rolly laughed.

"Got you good, didn't I?" he said.

Then, strangely, he grabbed Luke's bag and took off down the hall.

Luke was afraid he was stealing it. He galloped after Rolly.

Rolly screamed with laughter, maniacally.

This was not what Luke had expected.

Rolly dodged around a corner and Luke followed him. Rolly discovered a secret about Luke's bag that Luke had missed -- it was on wheels. So Rolly could run at full-speed with the bag rolling behind him. He careened this way and that, the bag zigzagging from side to side. Luke got close enough to tackle it if he wanted, but he hesitated. If the bag had been full of his own clothes, all the hand-me-down jeans and flannel shirts he'd gotten after Matthew and Mark outgrew them, he would have leaped. But the bag held Baron clothes, stiff shirts and shiny pants that were supposed to make him look like Lee Grant, instead of Luke Garner. He couldn't risk ruining them. He focused on Rolly instead. Instinctively, Luke dove over the bag to catch Rolly's legs. It was like playing football. Rolly fell to the ground with a crash.

"Just what is the meaning of this?" a man's voice boomed above them.

Rolly was instantly on his feet.

"He attacked me, sir," Rolly said. "I was showing the new boy his room and he attacked me."

Luke opened his mouth to protest, but nothing came out. He'd learned that from Matthew and Mark: Don't tattle.

The man looked dismissively from Rolly to Luke.

"What is your name, young man?"

Luke froze. He had to stop himself from saying his real name automatically. Then he had a split second of fearing he wouldn't be able to remember the name he was supposed to use. Was he taking too long? The man's glare intensified.

"L-L-Lee. Lee Grant," Luke finally stammered.

"Well, Mr. Grant," the man snapped. "This is a fine way to begin your academic career at Hendricks. You and Mr. Sturgeon each have two demerits for this disgraceful display. You may report to my room after the final bell to do your time."

"But, sir, I told you," Rolly protested. "He attacked me."

"Very well, Mr. Sturgeon. Make that three demerits for each of you."

"But -- " Rolly was undeterred.

"Four."

Rolly was going to complain again. Luke could tell by the way he was standing. But the man turned away and began walking down the hall, as if Rolly and Luke were both too unimportant to bother with, and he'd wasted enough time already.

Luke's head swam with questions. What were demerits? When was final bell? Where was this man's room? Who was he, anyway? Luke tried to muster up the nerve to call after the man -- or to ask Rolly, which seemed even more dangerous. But then he was blindsided with a shove that sent him crashing into the wall.

"Fonrol!" Rolly exploded.

Luke slumped against the wall. His shoulder throbbed. Why did Rolly seem to hate him so much?

"Well, come on, you little exnay," Rolly taunted. "Want to get demerits from Mr. Dirk, too?"

He stepped backwards, tugging on Luke's suitcase. Then he shoved it through a nearby doorway. Luke looked up and saw 156 etched on a copper plaque on the door. Relief overwhelmed him. Finally something made sense. This was his room. The rest of the day would be horrible -- he'd already resigned himself to that. But eventually it would be night, and he'd be sent to bed, and he could come to this room and shut the door. And then he could read the note from Jen's dad, if he didn't get a chance to read it before bedtime. Come nightfall, he'd know everything and be safe, alone in his own room.

Imagining the haven that awaited him in only a matter of hours, he got brave enough to peek around the corner.

The room held eight beds.

Seven of them were made up, with rich blue spreads stretched tautly from top to bottom. Only one, a lower bunk, was covered just by sheets.

Luke felt as desolate as that bed looked. He knew it was his. And he knew he wouldn't get to be alone in this room.

He probably wouldn't be safe, either, not if any of his seven roommates were anything like Rolly.

He edged his hand into his pocket, his fingers brushing the note from Jen's dad. What if he just pulled it out and read it now, right in front of Rolly?

He didn't dare. The way the last ten minutes had gone, Rolly would probably rip the note to shreds before Luke even had it completely out of his pocket.

And Jen's dad had acted like it was secret. If Ms. Hawkins wasn't supposed to see it, there was no way Rolly could be trusted.

Rolly hit Luke on the shoulder.

"Tag! You're it!" he hollered, and took off running. Panicked, Luke chased after him.

Copyright © 2001 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Chapter One

Sometimes he whispered his real name in the dark, in the middle of the night.

"Luke. My name is Luke."

He was sure no one could hear. His roommates were all asleep, and even if they weren't, there was no way the sound of his name could travel even the short distance to the bed above or beside him. He was fairly certain there were no bugs on him or in his room. He'd looked. But even if he'd missed seeing a microphone hidden in a mattress button or carved into the headboard, how could a microphone pick up a whisper he could barely hear himself?

He was safe now. Lying in bed, wide awake while everyone else slept, he reassured himself of that fact constantly. But his heart pounded and his face went clammy with fear every time he rounded his lips for that "u" sound -- instead of the fake smile of the double "e" in Lee, the name he had to force himself to answer to now.

It was better to forget, to never speak his real name again.

But he'd lost everything else. Even just mouthing his name was a comfort. It seemed like his only link now to his past, to his parents, his brothers.

To Jen.

By day, he kept his mouth shut.

He couldn't help it.

That first day, walking up the stairs of the Hendricks School for Boys with Jen's father, Luke had felt his jaw clench tighter and tighter the closer he got to the front door.

"Oh, don't look like that," Mr. Talbot had said, pretending to be jolly. "It's not reform school or anything."

The word stuck in Luke's brain. Reform. Re-form. Yes, they were going to re-form him. They were going to take a Luke and make him a Lee.

It was safe to be Lee. It wasn't safe to be Luke.

Jen's father stood with his hand on the ornate doorknob, waiting for a reply. But Luke couldn't have said a word if his life depended on it.

Jen's father hesitated, then pulled on the heavy door. They walked down a long hallway. The ceiling was so far away, Luke thought he could have stood his entire family on his shoulders -- one on top of the other, Dad and Mother and Matthew and Mark -- and the highest one still would barely touch. The walls were lined, floor to ceiling, with old paintings of people in costumes Luke had never seen outside of books.

Of course, there was very little he'd ever seen outside of books.

He tried not to stare, because if he really were Lee, surely everything would look familiar and ordinary. But that was hard to remember. They passed a classroom where dozens of boys sat in orderly rows, everyone facing away from the door. Luke gawked for so long that he practically began walking backwards. He'd known there were a lot of people in the world, but he'd never been able to imagine so many all in one place at the same time. Were any of them shadow children with fake identities, like Luke?

Jen's father clapped a hand on his shoulder, turning him around.

"Ah, here's the headmaster's office," Mr. Talbot said heartily. "Just what we were looking for."

Luke nodded, still mute, and followed him through a tall doorway.

A woman sitting behind a mammoth wood desk turned their way. She took one look at Luke and asked, "New boy?"

"Lee Grant," Jen's father said. "I spoke with the master about him last night."

"It's the middle of the semester, you know," she said warningly. "Unless he's very well prepared, he shan't catch up, and might have to repeat -- "

"That won't be a problem," Mr. Talbot assured her. Luke was glad he didn't have to speak for himself. He knew he wasn't well prepared. He wasn't prepared for anything.

The woman was already reaching for files and papers.

"His parents faxed in his medical information and his insurance standing and his academic records last night," she said. "But someone needs to sign these -- "

Jen's father took the stack of papers as if he autographed other people's documents all the time.

Probably he did.

Luke watched Mr. Talbot flip through the papers, scrawling his name here, crossing out a word or a phrase or a whole paragraph there. Luke was sure Jen's father was going too fast to actually read any of it.

And that was when the homesickness hit Luke for the first time. He could just picture his own father peering cautiously at important papers, reading them over and over before he even picked up a pen. Luke could see his father's rheumy eyes squinted in concentration, his brow furrowed with anxiety.

He was always so afraid of being tricked.

Maybe Jen's father didn't care.

Luke had to swallow hard then. He made a gulping noise, and the woman looked at him. Luke couldn't read her expression. Curiosity? Contempt? Indifference?

He didn't think it was sympathy.

Jen's father finished then, handing the papers back to the woman with a flourish.

"I'll call a boy to show you your room," the woman said to Luke.

Luke nodded. The woman leaned over a box on her desk and said, "Mr. Dirk, could you send Rolly Sturgeon to the office?"

Luke heard a roar along with the man's reply, "Yes, Ms. Hawkins," as if all the boys in the school were laughing and cheering and hissing at once. Luke felt his legs go weak with fear. When this Rolly Sturgeon showed up, Luke wasn't sure he'd be able to walk.

"Well, I'll be off," Jen's father said. "Duty calls."

He stuck out his hand and after a moment Luke realized he was supposed to shake it. But he'd never shaken hands with anyone before, so he put out the wrong hand first. Jen's father frowned, moving his head violently side to side, and glaring pointedly at the woman behind the desk. Fortunately, she wasn't watching. Luke recovered. He clumsily touched his hand to Jen's father's.

"Good luck," Jen's father said, bringing his other hand up to Luke's, too.

Only when Mr. Talbot had pulled both hands away did Luke realize he'd placed a tiny scrap of paper between Luke's fingers. Luke held it there until the woman turned her back. Then he slid it into his pocket.

Jen's father smiled.

"Keep those grades up," he said. "And no running away this time, you hear?"

Luke gulped again, and nodded. And then Jen's father left without a backward glance.

Chapter Two

Luke wanted to read the note from Mr. Talbot right away. He was sure it would tell him everything -- everything he needed to know to survive Hendricks School for Boys. No -- to survive anything that might come his way in this new life, outside hiding.

It was just one thin scrap of paper. Now that it was in his pocket, Luke couldn't even feel it there. But he had faith. Jen's father had hidden Luke from the Population Police, double-crossing his own employer. He'd gotten Luke his fake I.D., so he could move about as freely as anyone else, anyone who wasn't an illegal third child. Jen's father had risked his career helping Luke. No, it was more than that -- he'd risked his life. Surely Mr. Talbot would have written something incredibly wise.

Luke slid his hand into his pocket, his fingertips touching the top of the note. Ms. Hawkins was looking away. Maybe --

The door opened behind Luke. Luke jerked his hand out of his pocket.

"Scared you, didn't I?" a boy jeered. "Made you jump."

Luke was used to being teased. He had older brothers, after all. But Matthew and Mark's teasing never sounded quite so mean. Still, Luke knew he had to answer.

"Sure. I'm jumpy like a cat," Luke started to say. It was an expression of his mother's. Being cat-jumpy was good. Like being quick on his feet.

Just in time, Luke remembered he couldn't mention cats. Cats were illegal, too, outlawed because they might take food that was supposed to go to starving humans. Back home, Luke had seen wild cats a few times, stalking the countryside. Dad had liked having them around because they ate rats and mice that might eat his grain. But if Luke were really Lee Grant, filthy-rich city boy, he wouldn't know a thing about cats, jumpy or otherwise.

He clamped his mouth shut, closing off his "Sure -- " in a wimpy hiss. He kept his head down, too scared to look the other boy right in the eye.

The boy laughed, cruelly. He looked past Luke, to Ms. Hawkins.

"What's wrong with him?" the boy asked, as if Luke weren't even there. "Can't talk or something?"

Luke wanted Ms. Hawkins to stick up for him, to say, "He's just new. Don't you remember what that's like?" But she wasn't even paying attention. She frowned at the boy.

"Rolly, take him to room one fifty-six. There's an empty bed in there. Just put his suitcase down. Don't waste time unpacking. Then take him back to Mr. Dirk's history class with you. He's already behind. Lord knows what his parents were thinking."

Rolly shrugged and turned around.

"I did not dismiss you!" Ms. Hawkins shrieked.

"May I be dismissed?" Rolly asked mockingly.

"That's better," Ms. Hawkins said. "Now, get. Go on with you."

Luke picked up his suitcase and followed, hoping Rolly's request for dismissal would work for both of them. Either it did, or Ms. Hawkins didn't care.

In the hallway, Rolly took big steps. He was a good head taller than Luke, and had longer legs. It was all Luke could do to keep up, what with the suitcase banging against his ankles.

Rolly looked back over his shoulder, and started walking faster. He raced up a long stairway. By the time Luke reached the top, Rolly was nowhere in sight.

"Boo!"

Rolly leaped out from behind the newel post. Luke jumped so high, he lost his balance and teetered on the edge of the stairs. Rolly reached out, and Luke thought, See, he's not so bad. He's going to catch me. But Rolly pushed instead. Luke fell backwards. He might have tumbled down all the stairs, except that Rolly's push was crooked, and Luke landed on the railing. Pain shot through his back.

Rolly laughed.

"Got you good, didn't I?" he said.

Then, strangely, he grabbed Luke's bag and took off down the hall.

Luke was afraid he was stealing it. He galloped after Rolly.

Rolly screamed with laughter, maniacally.

This was not what Luke had expected.

Rolly dodged around a corner and Luke followed him. Rolly discovered a secret about Luke's bag that Luke had missed -- it was on wheels. So Rolly could run at full-speed with the bag rolling behind him. He careened this way and that, the bag zigzagging from side to side. Luke got close enough to tackle it if he wanted, but he hesitated. If the bag had been full of his own clothes, all the hand-me-down jeans and flannel shirts he'd gotten after Matthew and Mark outgrew them, he would have leaped. But the bag held Baron clothes, stiff shirts and shiny pants that were supposed to make him look like Lee Grant, instead of Luke Garner. He couldn't risk ruining them. He focused on Rolly instead. Instinctively, Luke dove over the bag to catch Rolly's legs. It was like playing football. Rolly fell to the ground with a crash.

"Just what is the meaning of this?" a man's voice boomed above them.

Rolly was instantly on his feet.

"He attacked me, sir," Rolly said. "I was showing the new boy his room and he attacked me."

Luke opened his mouth to protest, but nothing came out. He'd learned that from Matthew and Mark: Don't tattle.

The man looked dismissively from Rolly to Luke.

"What is your name, young man?"

Luke froze. He had to stop himself from saying his real name automatically. Then he had a split second of fearing he wouldn't be able to remember the name he was supposed to use. Was he taking too long? The man's glare intensified.

"L-L-Lee. Lee Grant," Luke finally stammered.

"Well, Mr. Grant," the man snapped. "This is a fine way to begin your academic career at Hendricks. You and Mr. Sturgeon each have two demerits for this disgraceful display. You may report to my room after the final bell to do your time."

"But, sir, I told you," Rolly protested. "He attacked me."

"Very well, Mr. Sturgeon. Make that three demerits for each of you."

"But -- " Rolly was undeterred.

"Four."

Rolly was going to complain again. Luke could tell by the way he was standing. But the man turned away and began walking down the hall, as if Rolly and Luke were both too unimportant to bother with, and he'd wasted enough time already.

Luke's head swam with questions. What were demerits? When was final bell? Where was this man's room? Who was he, anyway? Luke tried to muster up the nerve to call after the man -- or to ask Rolly, which seemed even more dangerous. But then he was blindsided with a shove that sent him crashing into the wall.

"Fonrol!" Rolly exploded.

Luke slumped against the wall. His shoulder throbbed. Why did Rolly seem to hate him so much?

"Well, come on, you little exnay," Rolly taunted. "Want to get demerits from Mr. Dirk, too?"

He stepped backwards, tugging on Luke's suitcase. Then he shoved it through a nearby doorway. Luke looked up and saw 156 etched on a copper plaque on the door. Relief overwhelmed him. Finally something made sense. This was his room. The rest of the day would be horrible -- he'd already resigned himself to that. But eventually it would be night, and he'd be sent to bed, and he could come to this room and shut the door. And then he could read the note from Jen's dad, if he didn't get a chance to read it before bedtime. Come nightfall, he'd know everything and be safe, alone in his own room.

Imagining the haven that awaited him in only a matter of hours, he got brave enough to peek around the corner.

The room held eight beds.

Seven of them were made up, with rich blue spreads stretched tautly from top to bottom. Only one, a lower bunk, was covered just by sheets.

Luke felt as desolate as that bed looked. He knew it was his. And he knew he wouldn't get to be alone in this room.

He probably wouldn't be safe, either, not if any of his seven roommates were anything like Rolly.

He edged his hand into his pocket, his fingers brushing the note from Jen's dad. What if he just pulled it out and read it now, right in front of Rolly?

He didn't dare. The way the last ten minutes had gone, Rolly would probably rip the note to shreds before Luke even had it completely out of his pocket.

And Jen's dad had acted like it was secret. If Ms. Hawkins wasn't supposed to see it, there was no way Rolly could be trusted.

Rolly hit Luke on the shoulder.

"Tag! You're it!" he hollered, and took off running. Panicked, Luke chased after him.

Text copyright © 2001 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter Two

Luke wanted to read the note from Mr. Talbot right away. He was sure it would tell him everything — everything he needed to know to survive Hendricks School for Boys. No — to survive anything that might come his way in this new life, outside hiding.

It was just one thin scrap of paper. Now that it was in his pocket, Luke couldn't even feel it there. But he had faith. Jen's father had hidden Luke from the Population Police, double-crossing his own employer. He'd gotten Luke his fake I.D., so he could move about as freely as anyone else, anyone who wasn't an illegal third child. Jen's father had risked his career helping Luke. No, it was more than that — he'd risked his life. Surely Mr. Talbot would have written something incredibly wise.

Luke slid his hand into his pocket, his fingertips touching the top of the note. Ms. Hawkins was looking away. Maybe —

The door opened behind Luke. Luke jerked his hand out of his pocket.

"Scared you, didn't I?" a boy jeered. "Made you jump."

Luke was used to being teased. He had older brothers, after all. But Matthew and Mark's teasing never sounded quite so mean. Still, Luke knew he had to answer.

"Sure. I'm jumpy like a cat," Luke started to say. It was an expression of his mother's. Being cat-jumpy was good. Like being quick on his feet.

Just in time, Luke remembered he couldn't mention cats. Cats were illegal, too, outlawed because they might take food that was supposed to go to starving humans. Back home, Luke had seen wild cats a few times, stalking the countryside. Dad had liked having them around because they ate rats and mice that might eat his grain. But if Luke were really Lee Grant, filthy-rich city boy, he wouldn't know a thing about cats, jumpy or otherwise.

He clamped his mouth shut, closing off his "Sure — " in a wimpy hiss. He kept his head down, too scared to look the other boy right in the eye.

The boy laughed, cruelly. He looked past Luke, to Ms. Hawkins.

"What's wrong with him?" the boy asked, as if Luke weren't even there. "Can't talk or something?"

Luke wanted Ms. Hawkins to stick up for him, to say, "He's just new. Don't you remember what that's like?" But she wasn't even paying attention. She frowned at the boy.

"Rolly, take him to room one fifty-six. There's an empty bed in there. Just put his suitcase down. Don't waste time unpacking. Then take him back to Mr. Dirk's history class with you. He's already behind. Lord knows what his parents were thinking."

Rolly shrugged and turned around.

"I did not dismiss you!" Ms. Hawkins shrieked.

"May I be dismissed?" Rolly asked mockingly.

"That's better," Ms. Hawkins said. "Now, get. Go on with you."

Luke picked up his suitcase and followed, hoping Rolly's request for dismissal would work for both of them. Either it did, or Ms. Hawkins didn't care.

In the hallway, Rolly took big steps. He was a good head taller than Luke, and had longer legs. It was all Luke could do to keep up, what with the suitcase banging against his ankles.

Rolly looked back over his shoulder, and started walking faster. He raced up a long stairway. By the time Luke reached the top, Rolly was nowhere in sight.

"Boo!"

Rolly leaped out from behind the newel post. Luke jumped so high, he lost his balance and teetered on the edge of the stairs. Rolly reached out, and Luke thought, See, he's not so bad. He's going to catch me. But Rolly pushed instead. Luke fell backwards. He might have tumbled down all the stairs, except that Rolly's push was crooked, and Luke landed on the railing. Pain shot through his back.

Rolly laughed.

"Got you good, didn't I?" he said.

Then, strangely, he grabbed Luke's bag and took off down the hall.

Luke was afraid he was stealing it. He galloped after Rolly.

Rolly screamed with laughter, maniacally.

This was not what Luke had expected.

Rolly dodged around a corner and Luke followed him. Rolly discovered a secret about Luke's bag that Luke had missed — it was on wheels. So Rolly could run at full-speed with the bag rolling behind him. He careened this way and that, the bag zigzagging from side to side. Luke got close enough to tackle it if he wanted, but he hesitated. If the bag had been full of his own clothes, all the hand-me-down jeans and flannel shirts he'd gotten after Matthew and Mark outgrew them, he would have leaped. But the bag held Baron clothes, stiff shirts and shiny pants that were supposed to make him look like Lee Grant, instead of Luke Garner. He couldn't risk ruining them. He focused on Rolly instead. Instinctively, Luke dove over the bag to catch Rolly's legs. It was like playing football. Rolly fell to the ground with a crash.

"Just what is the meaning of this?" a man's voice boomed above them.

Rolly was instantly on his feet.

"He attacked me, sir," Rolly said. "I was showing the new boy his room and he attacked me."

Luke opened his mouth to protest, but nothing came out. He'd learned that from Matthew and Mark: Don't tattle.

The man looked dismissively from Rolly to Luke.

"What is your name, young man?"

Luke froze. He had to stop himself from saying his real name automatically. Then he had a split second of fearing he wouldn't be able to remember the name he was supposed to use. Was he taking too long? The man's glare intensified.

"L-L-Lee. Lee Grant," Luke finally stammered.

"Well, Mr. Grant," the man snapped. "This is a fine way to begin your academic career at Hendricks. You and Mr. Sturgeon each have two demerits for this disgraceful display. You may report to my room after the final bell to do your time."

"But, sir, I told you," Rolly protested. "He attacked me."

"Very well, Mr. Sturgeon. Make that three demerits for each of you."

"But — " Rolly was undeterred.

"Four."

Rolly was going to complain again. Luke could tell by the way he was standing. But the man turned away and began walking down the hall, as if Rolly and Luke were both too unimportant to bother with, and he'd wasted enough time already.

Luke's head swam with questions. What were demerits? When was final bell? Where was this man's room? Who was he, anyway? Luke tried to muster up the nerve to call after the man — or to ask Rolly, which seemed even more dangerous. But then he was blindsided with a shove that sent him crashing into the wall.

"Fonrol!" Rolly exploded.

Luke slumped against the wall. His shoulder throbbed. Why did Rolly seem to hate him so much?

"Well, come on, you little exnay," Rolly taunted. "Want to get demerits from Mr. Dirk, too?"

He stepped backwards, tugging on Luke's suitcase. Then he shoved it through a nearby doorway. Luke looked up and saw 156 etched on a copper plaque on the door. Relief overwhelmed him. Finally something made sense. This was his room. The rest of the day would be horrible — he'd already resigned himself to that. But eventually it would be night, and he'd be sent to bed, and he could come to this room and shut the door. And then he could read the note from Jen's dad, if he didn't get a chance to read it before bedtime. Come nightfall, he'd know everything and be safe, alone in his own room.

Imagining the haven that awaited him in only a matter of hours, he got brave enough to peek around the corner.

The room held eight beds.

Seven of them were made up, with rich blue spreads stretched tautly from top to bottom. Only one, a lower bunk, was covered just by sheets.

Luke felt as desolate as that bed looked. He knew it was his. And he knew he wouldn't get to be alone in this room.

He probably wouldn't be safe, either, not if any of his seven roommates were anything like Rolly.

He edged his hand into his pocket, his fingers brushing the note from Jen's dad. What if he just pulled it out and read it now, right in front of Rolly?

He didn't dare. The way the last ten minutes had gone, Rolly would probably rip the note to shreds before Luke even had it completely out of his pocket.

And Jen's dad had acted like it was secret. If Ms. Hawkins wasn't supposed to see it, there was no way Rolly could be trusted.

Rolly hit Luke on the shoulder.

"Tag! You're it!" he hollered, and took off running. Panicked, Luke chased after him.

Copyright © 2001 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

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Introduction

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Imagine living in the shadows, hiding your existence from almost everyone in the world. This is the plight of Jen, Trey, Nina, and all other third-born children. With their nation plagued by drought and food shortages, their government has made it illegal for families to have more than two children. Yet thousands of thirds exist without identification cards or rights of any kind. As these shadow children begin to discover and communicate with each other, their worldviews broaden. They begin to wonder why their government claims that they are the cause of all of their nation's ills, and they question the worth of their leaders themselves. Fearfully, unwittingly, or angrily, these secret children emerge from the shadows to fight for change.

The seven Shadow Children novels are told from the viewpoints of Luke, the beloved third son of a rural family; Matthias, the abandoned urban orphan raised by elderly moralist Samuel; and other third children. Their narratives offer readers differing perspectives on the compelling questions explored in the series. Should the government have the right to dictate the size of families or other aspects of how people choose to live their lives? In an age of televised news, how can one be certain what is really happening in the world and what is illusion — who is telling the truth and who isn't? Can individual actions truly affect the future of a nation? And, ultimately, what does it mean to live in freedom?

DISCUSSION TOPICS

Why do you think some families decided to have third children despite their society's desperate circumstances and strict laws? Do you think that the benefits of having another child would outweigh thesacrifices that must be made? Why or why not?

Each third child comes from a different background and type of hiding place. How are these children treated by the people who care for them and hide them? How do they feel about their circumstances? How do these feelings affect their actions?

How does the government enforce its rules? Do you think its plan for dealing with the low food supply is a good one? Is it justified? Must governments limit individual freedoms to protect their citizens as a group? Is this the case in your own country?

To come out of hiding, shadow children must assume false identities. How would you feel if you had to live under an assumed name, denying your relationship to your family? Which shadow child's feelings about this situation are most like your own and why?

Are the shadow children in more danger when they are hidden or when they venture out into the larger, more complicated world? In what ways do you think this would be a difficult transition to make? Would you feel safer or less safe out in the world?

Shadow children are often uncertain whether people are their friends or their enemies. Cite examples when third children question the loyalties of Mr. Talbot, Smits, Oscar, and even members of the Population Police Force. Is trust as difficult in your world?

A critical challenge faced by each shadow child is the sense that one individual cannot make a difference. When do Luke, Nina, Trey, and Matthias express this sense? Are they correct? What is the relationship between this feeling and the leadership roles these children ultimately take on?

How do different characters contribute to the fight for the freedom of the shadow children? How effective is Jen's rally? Does Luke help the cause when he joins the Grant family of Barons? Can Trey's fear be a type of courage? How do Mr. and Mrs. Talbot, Mr. Hendricks, and even Philip Twinings help the fight?

It becomes increasingly clear that the government is misinforming its citizens. What lies are told on the public television channels? How is the information on the Baron channels different? What roles do television and the Internet play in the novels?

Why do you think the government is, in a sense, framing the shadow children for the nation's problems? Whom do you think the starving population would be angry with if they did not have the shadow children to blame for their hunger?

In what ways does hunger affect different characters and their actions? If your family were hungry, would you have joined the Population Police? Why or why not?

When Aldous Krakenaur and the Population Police are defeated in the final book, are the third children truly safe? What does Luke do to expose Oscar? Why does Nina feel that only a third child could have stopped Oscar?

What kind of government do you think — or hope — the shadow children will help to create? How does Luke imagine the future? Do you think it will be perfect? Do you think it will be better? Explain your answer.

QUOTATIONS TO DISCUSS

Among the Hidden begins with Luke musing: "I will never be allowed outside again. Maybe never again as long as I live." What might you do if you were facing your final moments outside? How does this passage affect your understanding of the series?

Jen tries to persuade Luke to join the rally, saying, "You've got to come, Luke, or you'll hate yourself the rest of your life. When you don't have to hide anymore, even years from now, there'll always be some small part of you whispering, 'I don't deserve this. I didn't fight for it. I'm not worth it.' But you are, Luke, you are." List three ways Jen's words are important. How is Jen, who dies, a key character throughout the series? Compare and contrast the characters of Jen and Samuel as moral thinkers and leaders.

Near the end of Among the Impostors, Mr. Hendricks explains that, "The Population Police can lie too...It suits the government's purposes to say they are arresting third children rather than traitors." Why might this be better for the government's purposes? Are third children the real cause of the nation's troubles?

Among the Betrayed opens with Nina's thought that "...like the bogeyman and the Big Bad Wolf and the Wicked Witch and the creep-show monster, the Population Police belonged in stories and nightmares, not real life." What makes these rebellious thoughts? What makes these brave thoughts?

In Chapter 29 of Among the Barons, "Luke remembered a quote from one of his history books: 'The king is dead, long live the king.'" How do Luke's experiences help him understand these words spoken upon the death of France's Kings? Is the transfer of power in Luke's world really this clear? How might this quote be understood in terms of the way leadership changes hands in your country?

In Chapter 21 of Among the Brave, Luke's brother, Mark, complements Trey on being braver than him. As Trey Responds, he realizes, "People are brave in different ways." Explain this quote in terms of the different types of bravery depicted in the series.

In Chapter 19 of Among the Enemy, Matthias wonders why he could save a Population Police officer, then fight against him. "It had to do with Samuel telling him, over and over again, 'Killing is wrong.' Even...back in the cabin, Matthias hadn't wanted to be an accomplice to any more murder." How does the memory of Samuel affect Matthias's thoughts and actions? How do Samuel's words affect your understanding of the relationship between third children and their government?

At the end of Chapter 8 in Among the Free, Luke asks a boy about his loyalties. "'Which side am I on?' [the boy] repeated. 'What do you think? Whatever side feeds me — that's the one for me.'" Luke later muses, "Shouldn't the enemies of my enemies be my friends?" Discuss loyalty in terms of these two quotations. Could you ever be driven to think like the hungry boy? Why or why not? How would you respond to Luke's circular question about the enemies of his enemies?

WRITING AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

Hiding

The premise of the Shadow Children series is that third children must live in hiding, pretending not to exist. Imagine you are a third child. Write three to five journal entries describing your life, how you feel about it, and your dreams, if any, for the future.

Margaret Peterson Haddix calls these novels the "Shadow Children" series. What other words, such as hidden or forbidden, describe third children? Look up "shadow" in the dictionary. Based on these exercises, write a short essay explaining why "shadow" is, or is not, the best word to use in the series title. If not, what series title would you suggest?

Make a "top ten" list of reasons people join the Population Police. Then, in the character of one of those of people, write a speech explaining to the Population Police why you have come to join them. Read your speech aloud to classmates.

In the final book, Luke balks at being interviewed on camera, stating that if he is free then he has the right to say nothing. Why does Luke say this? Role-play this scene, having one classmate act as the interviewer while others play liberated citizens. You may also want to role-play the scene in which citizens begin to testify against third children once again. Discuss ways in which these role-plays are similar and/or different.

Population

The world's six billionth child was born in 1999, and our population continues to grow. A growing population poses risks to the planet. Imagine you have just been told that you are child number six billion. Write a journal entry describing how you feel about this fact.

The world's three most populous countries are China, India, and the United States. Research how population growth has been handled in one of these countries. Compare and contrast the different population changes and policies with the research of other classmates or friends. Have the policies been successful? What positive and negative effects might these policies have in the future? (Hint: Excellent data is available on the Population Reference Bureau website: www.prb.org.)

Food and Hunger

Luke's family lives on a farm, and he is very interested in gardening and hydroponics, the growing of plants in a nutrient-rich water rather than soil. Learn more about these disciplines by trying to grow some vegetables of your own or trying your hand at hydroponics.

The people of the Shadow Children world sometimes act against their moral senses because they are starving. What does it mean to be hungry? Write a paragraph describing how your stomach, limbs, and mind feel when you have missed a meal. Compare this to an encyclopedia definition of starvation. Based on these observations and facts, write a defense of the starving people's bad acts.

How do we deal with hunger and famine in our modern world? Research the policies that different countries have for dealing with hunger both at home and abroad. Stage a debate, with each person advocating a different approach, and see if you can reach a consensus about which methods are the most effective.

Governments and Control

Are these novels about a strong government preventing famine through limiting population? Or are they about a failing government attempting to keep control despite the famine by blaming third children for the entire population's hunger? Write a paragraph explaining which of the above sentences best describes the crisis of the Shadow Children series and why.

Research the population control efforts of the Chinese government, the vilification of the Jewish people by the Nazis in World War II, or the racial hierarchy established between the Hutu and Tutsi people in Rwanda. Present an informative poster based on your research to friends and classmates. Discuss the ways in which each of these governments resembles the actions of the Shadow Children government. Then, if desired, write a paragraph stating which real-life situation you think is most similar to the series and why.

To promote the idea that third children are villains, the government feeds the population propaganda through television and posters. Find the dictionary definition of propaganda. Look for examples of propaganda in the novels. Then create your own propaganda poster defending or blaming third children for the troubles of their nation.

Luke and his friends ultimately have the opportunity to help create a new government. With classmates or friends, brainstorm a list of rules, regulations, and freedoms for the new government you would create for the Shadow Children. Or you and your classmates can each draft a new constitution for the Shadow Children to present to your class. Vote on the best constitution.

What does it mean to be free? Hold a Freedom Day at your school or classroom. Learn about celebrations of freedom across time and cultures. Write an essay, poem, or song lyrics; create a sculpture, drawing, or collage; or improvise a dance or a play showing what freedom means to you.

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Margaret Peterson Haddix

What inspired you to create the Shadow Children series?

MPH: I first started thinking about the whole scenario when my husband and I were trying to decide whether or not to have a third child. We discussed the issue of overpopulation, and how that should affect our decision. In frustration one night I thought, "Well, if overpopulation were that bad of a problem, there'd be a law that nobody could have more than two children." My next thought was, "Wow. What if there were a law like that?"

By any chance, are you a third child? Do you have more than two children?

MPH: No to both questions. I'm a second child, out of four. And I have only two children, though there are usually several of my kids' friends hanging around the house so it often seems like I have more.

When you wrote the first book, Among the Hidden, did you envision it would be the first in a series?

MPH: Not at all. I intended it to be a stand-alone book, and for a long time I resisted all suggestions that I continue the story. Then I got the image in my head of Luke lying in bed at night in a strange place, surrounded by strangers, and whispering his real name to himself in a desperate attempt to hold on to his real identity. That became the opening scene of Among the Impostors and the beginning of the rest of the series.

Each of the books has been so different, yet based on the same themes. How are you able to keep the series fresh?

MPH: I think it's helped to switch between main characters, so everything isn't always from Luke's perspective. And, although I didn't plan this from the beginning, the situations in the books keep changing, with the shift in the government and more restrictive rules. My characters are becoming more desperate, with good reason.

Your books all offer so many twists and turns that they are real page-turners, yet all of the angles come together. How are you able to keep everything straight as you write these books?

MPH: Well, I'm not always able to keep it all straight the first time through. Sometimes I write myself into corners and struggle to find a way out. Revision is definitely helpful.

You don't specify the setting for the books. Is this meant to suggest that this type of totalitarian government can take place anywhere in the world, at any time?

MPH: I don't want to sound like that much of an alarmist, although it amazes me how ordinary, otherwise sane and supposedly even good people accepted dictators like Hitler in the past. I did consider, early on, stating outright that these books take place in the United States in some not-so-distant future, after droughts and famines and a drastic change in the government. But explaining all of that would have been an immense interruption in the story. And I thought a lot of people would dismiss such a possibility out of hand, and then dismiss the entire series as implausible. So I left the setting as some vague, fictional place in some vague, fictional future, with hopes that this would make readers think for themselves about whether such a shift would be possible here.

How much do current events affect your plot choices for the series?

MPH: The first three books were not affected at all by current events. Instead, while I was planning for them, I did a lot of historical research: I read about famines in the past; I read about the difficulties Jewish children faced coming out of hiding after World War II; I read about the different resistance movements that sprang up to fight the Nazis throughout Europe; I read about the Soviet Union under Stalin; I thought about my father's stories about growing up during the Depression and my own fascination with some world events of the 1980s, particularly Tiananmen Square and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. I thought I was drawing on tragedies and hopes of the past in order to imagine children fighting a dismal future that I didn't believe would really happen.

My perspective changed after September 11. I had just begun writing Among the Barons in the fall of 2001, and for a few weeks after the terrorist attacks I felt it was impossible to continue. It seemed wrong to write about opposing the government -- any government. I knew Oscar was going to carry out some form of sabotage, and it made me sick to think about writing that. When I finally returned to Barons, it became a very different book than it would have been if I'd finished it September 10, 2001. Luke's confusion and dread mirrored a lot of what I was feeling in real life.

Among the Brave and Among the Enemy have been less connected to current events, but there are certainly overtones. In the Shadow Children world, people gave up all their freedom for food; our country is currently struggling with the question of how much freedom we can or should give up for security. In Brave and Enemy, Trey and Matthew and Matthias put their lives on the line trying to protect or save other people; soldiers and firefighters and police officers made and continue to make similar choices.

I really wish we were living in safer, happier times, and I could base the books solely on my own imagination and history. But seeing all the connections to reality does make me more thoughtful and careful about what I write.

The Shadow Children long to live freely, yet have been conditioned to fear the outside world. Do you feel that readers can relate to this feeling of fear and powerlessness? Why?

MPH: Yes. We live in frightening times, and it's hard to know what to do. I think a lot of people feel powerless right now. Also, on a less dramatic scale, I think most teens and preteens can relate to wanting to be in control of their own lives but being afraid of all the responsibility. That's part of growing up.

It's fascinating how minor characters in earlier books become the protagonists of later books. Did you plan this when you began writing the series?

MPH: When I agreed to do more books after Among the Hidden, I expected to tell about numerous characters besides Luke. But I didn't really plan the interconnections -- my original thought was that I'd skip from one character to another, in vastly different circumstances. I think I was seeing the series as several related stand-alone books, rather than an actual series. But then after Among the Impostors, it was like Nina said to me, "Hey, I've got a story, too. Want to hear it?" In retrospect, it makes sense to me that the minor characters grow into main characters in subsequent books. With practically every book I've ever written, I've known more about the minor characters than I can fit into the book. So it's been a joy to get to expand on some of those characters in other books.

The Shadow Children series is hugely popular with middle grade and teen readers. What are the most common questions that kids ask you about the books?

MPH: A lot of kids ask where the books take place, and whether I think the events in the books will really happen. They ask how I got the idea for the series, and whether I know about the one-child policy in China. One of the most poignant questions anyone ever asked me came from a boy who wanted to know where the Population Police are because, he said, "I don't want to go there." And I thought, okay, maybe he doesn't quite understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction, but he does get the bigger point. None of us should ever want to go to those kinds of restrictions, that kind of a police state.

Do you hope to send any particular message or moral when writing these books?

MPH: My primary goal is to tell a good story -- I can't think of much that turns off kids faster than books that are overly didactic or moralistic. But I'm always glad when kids tell me these books have made them think about freedom and courage and personal choices and sacrificing for others.

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Reading Group Guide

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Imagine living in the shadows, hiding your existence from almost everyone in the world. This is the plight of Jen, Trey, Nina, and all other third-born children. With their nation plagued by drought and food shortages, their government has made it illegal for families to have more than two children. Yet thousands of thirds exist without identification cards or rights of any kind. As these shadow children begin to discover and communicate with each other, their worldviews broaden. They begin to wonder why their government claims that they are the cause of all of their nation's ills, and they question the worth of their leaders themselves. Fearfully, unwittingly, or angrily, these secret children emerge from the shadows to fight for change.

The seven Shadow Children novels are told from the viewpoints of Luke, the beloved third son of a rural family; Matthias, the abandoned urban orphan raised by elderly moralist Samuel; and other third children. Their narratives offer readers differing perspectives on the compelling questions explored in the series. Should the government have the right to dictate the size of families or other aspects of how people choose to live their lives? In an age of televised news, how can one be certain what is really happening in the world and what is illusion — who is telling the truth and who isn't? Can individual actions truly affect the future of a nation? And, ultimately, what does it mean to live in freedom?

DISCUSSION TOPICS

Why do you think some families decided to have third children despite their society's desperate circumstances and strict laws? Do you think that the benefits of having another child would outweigh the sacrifices that must be made? Why or why not?

Each third child comes from a different background and type of hiding place. How are these children treated by the people who care for them and hide them? How do they feel about their circumstances? How do these feelings affect their actions?

How does the government enforce its rules? Do you think its plan for dealing with the low food supply is a good one? Is it justified? Must governments limit individual freedoms to protect their citizens as a group? Is this the case in your own country?

To come out of hiding, shadow children must assume false identities. How would you feel if you had to live under an assumed name, denying your relationship to your family? Which shadow child's feelings about this situation are most like your own and why?

Are the shadow children in more danger when they are hidden or when they venture out into the larger, more complicated world? In what ways do you think this would be a difficult transition to make? Would you feel safer or less safe out in the world?

Shadow children are often uncertain whether people are their friends or their enemies. Cite examples when third children question the loyalties of Mr. Talbot, Smits, Oscar, and even members of the Population Police Force. Is trust as difficult in your world?

A critical challenge faced by each shadow child is the sense that one individual cannot make a difference. When do Luke, Nina, Trey, and Matthias express this sense? Are they correct? What is the relationship between this feeling and the leadership roles these children ultimately take on?

How do different characters contribute to the fight for the freedom of the shadow children? How effective is Jen's rally? Does Luke help the cause when he joins the Grant family of Barons? Can Trey's fear be a type of courage? How do Mr. and Mrs. Talbot, Mr. Hendricks, and even Philip Twinings help the fight?

It becomes increasingly clear that the government is misinforming its citizens. What lies are told on the public television channels? How is the information on the Baron channels different? What roles do television and the Internet play in the novels?

Why do you think the government is, in a sense, framing the shadow children for the nation's problems? Whom do you think the starving population would be angry with if they did not have the shadow children to blame for their hunger?

In what ways does hunger affect different characters and their actions? If your family were hungry, would you have joined the Population Police? Why or why not?

When Aldous Krakenaur and the Population Police are defeated in the final book, are the third children truly safe? What does Luke do to expose Oscar? Why does Nina feel that only a third child could have stopped Oscar?

What kind of government do you think — or hope — the shadow children will help to create? How does Luke imagine the future? Do you think it will be perfect? Do you think it will be better? Explain your answer.

QUOTATIONS TO DISCUSS

Among the Hidden begins with Luke musing: "I will never be allowed outside again. Maybe never again as long as I live." What might you do if you were facing your final moments outside? How does this passage affect your understanding of the series?

Jen tries to persuade Luke to join the rally, saying, "You've got to come, Luke, or you'll hate yourself the rest of your life. When you don't have to hide anymore, even years from now, there'll always be some small part of you whispering, 'I don't deserve this. I didn't fight for it. I'm not worth it.' But you are, Luke, you are." List three ways Jen's words are important. How is Jen, who dies, a key character throughout the series? Compare and contrast the characters of Jen and Samuel as moral thinkers and leaders.

Near the end of Among the Impostors, Mr. Hendricks explains that, "The Population Police can lie too...It suits the government's purposes to say they are arresting third children rather than traitors." Why might this be better for the government's purposes? Are third children the real cause of the nation's troubles?

Among the Betrayed opens with Nina's thought that "...like the bogeyman and the Big Bad Wolf and the Wicked Witch and the creep-show monster, the Population Police belonged in stories and nightmares, not real life." What makes these rebellious thoughts? What makes these brave thoughts?

In Chapter 29 of Among the Barons, "Luke remembered a quote from one of his history books: 'The king is dead, long live the king.'" How do Luke's experiences help him understand these words spoken upon the death of France's Kings? Is the transfer of power in Luke's world really this clear? How might this quote be understood in terms of the way leadership changes hands in your country?

In Chapter 21 of Among the Brave, Luke's brother, Mark, complements Trey on being braver than him. As Trey Responds, he realizes, "People are brave in different ways." Explain this quote in terms of the different types of bravery depicted in the series.

In Chapter 19 of Among the Enemy, Matthias wonders why he could save a Population Police officer, then fight against him. "It had to do with Samuel telling him, over and over again, 'Killing is wrong.' Even...back in the cabin, Matthias hadn't wanted to be an accomplice to any more murder." How does the memory of Samuel affect Matthias's thoughts and actions? How do Samuel's words affect your understanding of the relationship between third children and their government?

At the end of Chapter 8 in Among the Free, Luke asks a boy about his loyalties. "'Which side am I on?' [the boy] repeated. 'What do you think? Whatever side feeds me — that's the one for me.'" Luke later muses, "Shouldn't the enemies of my enemies be my friends?" Discuss loyalty in terms of these two quotations. Could you ever be driven to think like the hungry boy? Why or why not? How would you respond to Luke's circular question about the enemies of his enemies?

WRITING AND RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

Hiding

The premise of the Shadow Children series is that third children must live in hiding, pretending not to exist. Imagine you are a third child. Write three to five journal entries describing your life, how you feel about it, and your dreams, if any, for the future.

Margaret Peterson Haddix calls these novels the "Shadow Children" series. What other words, such as hidden or forbidden, describe third children? Look up "shadow" in the dictionary. Based on these exercises, write a short essay explaining why "shadow" is, or is not, the best word to use in the series title. If not, what series title would you suggest?

Make a "top ten" list of reasons people join the Population Police. Then, in the character of one of those of people, write a speech explaining to the Population Police why you have come to join them. Read your speech aloud to classmates.

In the final book, Luke balks at being interviewed on camera, stating that if he is free then he has the right to say nothing. Why does Luke say this? Role-play this scene, having one classmate act as the interviewer while others play liberated citizens. You may also want to role-play the scene in which citizens begin to testify against third children once again. Discuss ways in which these role-plays are similar and/or different.

Population

The world's six billionth child was born in 1999, and our population continues to grow. A growing population poses risks to the planet. Imagine you have just been told that you are child number six billion. Write a journal entry describing how you feel about this fact.

The world's three most populous countries are China, India, and the United States. Research how population growth has been handled in one of these countries. Compare and contrast the different population changes and policies with the research of other classmates or friends. Have the policies been successful? What positive and negative effects might these policies have in the future? (Hint: Excellent data is available on the Population Reference Bureau website: www.prb.org.)

Food and Hunger

Luke's family lives on a farm, and he is very interested in gardening and hydroponics, the growing of plants in a nutrient-rich water rather than soil. Learn more about these disciplines by trying to grow some vegetables of your own or trying your hand at hydroponics.

The people of the Shadow Children world sometimes act against their moral senses because they are starving. What does it mean to be hungry? Write a paragraph describing how your stomach, limbs, and mind feel when you have missed a meal. Compare this to an encyclopedia definition of starvation. Based on these observations and facts, write a defense of the starving people's bad acts.

How do we deal with hunger and famine in our modern world? Research the policies that different countries have for dealing with hunger both at home and abroad. Stage a debate, with each person advocating a different approach, and see if you can reach a consensus about which methods are the most effective.

Governments and Control

Are these novels about a strong government preventing famine through limiting population? Or are they about a failing government attempting to keep control despite the famine by blaming third children for the entire population's hunger? Write a paragraph explaining which of the above sentences best describes the crisis of the Shadow Children series and why.

Research the population control efforts of the Chinese government, the vilification of the Jewish people by the Nazis in World War II, or the racial hierarchy established between the Hutu and Tutsi people in Rwanda. Present an informative poster based on your research to friends and classmates. Discuss the ways in which each of these governments resembles the actions of the Shadow Children government. Then, if desired, write a paragraph stating which real-life situation you think is most similar to the series and why.

To promote the idea that third children are villains, the government feeds the population propaganda through television and posters. Find the dictionary definition of propaganda. Look for examples of propaganda in the novels. Then create your own propaganda poster defending or blaming third children for the troubles of their nation.

Luke and his friends ultimately have the opportunity to help create a new government. With classmates or friends, brainstorm a list of rules, regulations, and freedoms for the new government you would create for the Shadow Children. Or you and your classmates can each draft a new constitution for the Shadow Children to present to your class. Vote on the best constitution.

What does it mean to be free? Hold a Freedom Day at your school or classroom. Learn about celebrations of freedom across time and cultures. Write an essay, poem, or song lyrics; create a sculpture, drawing, or collage; or improvise a dance or a play showing what freedom means to you.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 298 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 302 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2007

    Among the Good Books

    This book is great. Right when you think things are slowing down and won't pick up again... BOOM! Something big comes out of nowhere and keeps you reading. When you think, I'll just read one more chapter, you really can't. A wonderful sequel to Among the Hidden, and it just keeps you guessing until the end.

    25 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Haddix Does It Again

    "Among the Imposters" is written by Margret Peterson Haddix and published by Aladdin Fiction. This book is AMAZING; once I got going, I couldn't put it down. The story is about a young boy, Luke Garner. He's 12 years old, is a third child and in his society if you're a third born in a family, then you pretty much have no right to live. In this book he gets a fake I.D from his former friend's dad, Mr. Talbot. Mr. Talbot takes Luke to a reform school with his new fake I.D, as the name of Lee Grant. Luke hates the school because he gets picked on and gets tortured by an Evil boy he names, The Jackal Boy. The Jackal and his gang torture Luke. They make him say he's an exany, which means "shadow kid"; which is another name for an illegal third child. This book is about Luke and how he's taken from not seeing anyone to being whisked away to a rich person school. New clothes new name, new life, new food; out of his cozy attic in the woods. No friends, could you imagine?

    I would recommend this book to everyone of any age because this is one of my favorite books of all time and this is probably one of the best books you will ever read. If you don't like reading, then read this series, it will change your mind about books, Margret Peterson Haddix is an amazing author.

    17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2008

    among the imposters

    this story is about an illehal third child that is out of the hidding and into the open and he has to go to a private school for boys only while his friend jen is dead and he is having trouble making friends with his roomates and see what happen in AMONG THE IMPOSTERS...

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    Read This

    Among the Imposters was a great science fiction novel written by the award winning author Margaret Peterson Haddix. While I was reading Among the Imposters I really enjoyed reading it because Margaret Peterson Haddix used a lot of sensory details to make me feel like I was in the school with him. The last two chapters weren¿t very good. It was kind of boring because I expected it to be more mysterious or to have more action in it. <BR/> Among the imposters takes place in the future at a school called Hendricks School for Boys. Since the book takes place in the future it is illegal to have more than two kids. Thirteen year old Luke Garner is an illegal third child. He tries throughout the population police. When Luke first gets to Hendricks gets to Hendricks he finds a door to the outside. One day he goes outside and tries to plant a garden. The next day he goes out and finds out that someone destroyed his garden. So he stays outside one night to see who wrecked his garden. A group of kids come out and he follows them. When he finds that the kids who wrecked his garden are actually illegal third children, but he doesn¿t know if he should come out and say that he¿s a third child or not. <BR/> Margaret Peterson Haddix uses a lot of foreshadowing in her writing. She also has a lot of symbols in her writing. As she writes you get kind of like a mysterious feeling about some of the characters. I think if someone was looking for a good mystery book they should read this novel. But, before they read this book they should read the first book in the series.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2012

    Woa! Quite incredible!

    :) sooo good and addicting!

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Great

    Everytime you pick up this book its like something exciting is happening....i cant put this book down.......this book is the best.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2012

    Great

    We read at school and I dont want it to end i cant put it DOWN.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    Anonymous

    I love this book!!!! I couldn't put it down. I can't wait to read the next book.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011

    Great book!!!!

    I love margret peterson haddix and this one if the many reasons why<33333

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2009

    Awesome

    The title of my book is Among the Imposters, and the author of it is Margret Petterson Haddix. Luke Garner is the name of the boy in my story but he has a fake I.D. name Lee Grant. He takes the name of Lee Grant because he or Luke is a third child. If he is found by the population police he will be killed because he is a third child and the government does that because of the lack of supplies. He is sent to this school called Hendrix School for boys. He does not like being there because he is getting picked on by boys and the leader that is picking on him the most is called Jackal boy, he also does not feel like he fits in. So somehow the population police finds out that there is third born children so they come and search the school and they take Jackal boy away.
    I recommend this book to all readers. The reason I would recommend the book is it is an adventure book and a little of a mystery book also. This book was a page turner because you don't know what is going to happen next and it keeps you on your feet. It was easy to concentrate on the book because there was always action or a problem facing Luke. Some people could also be able to connect to the charter Luke, if you have ever moved to a different school and if you didn't fit in this would be a good book for you.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    Among the Impostors review

    This review is about the novel, Among the Impostors. It is written by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I don¿t like to read that many books, but since I had read the first one, I thought that I might as well read the second book. I am glad that I decided to read this because it was a really good book. Right when things started to slow down, the storyline then starts to speed right back up again. The majority of the book keep you on the edge of you seat. What makes it good is how the author weaves the storyline throughout the book. The whole time reading this you want to know what is going to happen next and even how it will end. These are some of the things in the book that keeps you wanting to read more and more, never wanting to put it down till you are finished.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    Great book

    Almost as good as the hunger games

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2012

    Read it

    I read it and i love it the funny thing is was that my teacher was reading it and my name is luke and someone else in my class is named jason and people were asking me like "why did you do that to jason" it was funny

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2012

    Awsome book

    U need to read this to learn an important life lesson. This book taught me manny things . U have to read this book it is awsome it should be called among the hidden awsomeness.!! It totaly roks out loud. It is amazing and awsome.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    Great book Great book

    Was a clifhanger

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    Incredable

    Luke/lees strugles inspire me

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2012

    Among the imposters

    It is a little confusing at first but is really good. I suggest that you rrad the first book first

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2012

    Among the hidden awsomeness!!!

    I read the first book with my 5th grade class. I wanted to read this. And LOVEit!! You have to read the first booktl to understand. I cried at the end of the first book! YOU SHOULD READ IT!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2012

    Great book

    Its a really great book those who love adventers and mysterys you will love this book so make sure to try and read the whole series I really recamend this book yes im reading the whole series read it you will love the book and whole series!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    Love it!!!

    This is a great book. I can't wait to read the rest if the series. This series takes place in the future. It is about a boy name Luke, who is a third child. In these times third children are not aloud. If you were a third child you would be killed by ' the population police.' This series takes you through the adventures of his life. This particular book is the second in the series. To sum it up, it is about how Luke is at the Hendrekson school for boys with a fake identity trying to pass as a normal kid, not a third child.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 302 Customer Reviews

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