Off the Road

( 4 )


When Tom's grandfather goes off the road, Tom is sure Gandy has gone mad. Tom knows that beyond the wall lies the Outside, a wild place filled with barbarians and unimaginable dangers. He also knows that Oldies are weak-minded. So Tom summons all his courage and goes after Gandy, who obviously doesn't know what he's doing. Or does he? Tom's experience in the strange, messy, emotional world Outside, where so many things prohibited to Insiders are taken for granted, quickly shakes all his certainties. Who is crazy,...

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When Tom's grandfather goes off the road, Tom is sure Gandy has gone mad. Tom knows that beyond the wall lies the Outside, a wild place filled with barbarians and unimaginable dangers. He also knows that Oldies are weak-minded. So Tom summons all his courage and goes after Gandy, who obviously doesn't know what he's doing. Or does he? Tom's experience in the strange, messy, emotional world Outside, where so many things prohibited to Insiders are taken for granted, quickly shakes all his certainties. Who is crazy, the Oldies who are sent to the Memory Theme Park, or the families who let them go? Is the Wall meant to keep the Outsiders out, as Tom has always been told--or the Insiders in? Master storyteller Nina Bawden, known for stories in which secrets from the past emerge in the present, has created a spellbinding adventure set in a future society with secrets that make it a chilling mirror of our own.

Nina Bawden is the author of many acclaimed novels for adults and for young people. She lives in London and Greece.

In 2040, eleven-year-old Tom follows his grandfather through the Wall and into the forbidden Wild, where they seek to find his grandfather's boyhood home.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A divided America in the year 2040 is the setting for this novel filled with "imaginative details," said PW. "For sci-fi buffs not yet ready to tackle Orwell's 1984, Bawden here introduces many of the same provocative issues for middle readers." Ages 10-14. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
What would life be like if our urban areas were enclosed by a wall and an electrified wire? If roads were the only safe places to walk? If outside the wall there were monsters and wild men, and trees were considered dangerous? If "Rangers" were in charge, and there were no nations? If anyone over 65 an "oldie" were to be taken to a "memory theme park" and disposed of, like trash? This is a wonderful story of a twelve-year-old boy who follows his grandfather under the wire and past the wall. Tom meets his grandfather's brother, and the rest of his family, and especially his cousin Lucy. While Tom learns to love the freedom he's found, Lucy wants more order in her life. When the Rangers finally catch up with them, both Tom and Lucy have big decisions to make.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A novel set in Wales in 2036. Tom Jacobs, 11, and his family are celebrating his grandfather's birthday with an outing to the Memory Theme Park, that is, until Gandy goes AWOL. In this orderly, high-tech society, people reside in neat communities called Urbs, surrounded by fortifications to "hold back the Wild." Children are brought up to fear anything beyond their walls and with the belief that "by sixty-five most Oldies were brain-dead." What the boy doesn't know is that his grandfather is escaping his induction notice into the Nostalgia Block of the facility. Venturing Outside, Tom does not find dragons and trolls as he has been led to expect, but something akin to a time warp. He is introduced to Gandy's brother and his extended family, who are among the large numbers of people who live off the land without electricity or modern conveniences. Through the characters' experiences, readers become aware of the rules and rewards of both societies and must grapple with issues of individual rights and freedoms and the sacrifices that are required to insure security. There are, however, a few problems. In one week's time, Tom transforms from a self-important couch potato into a valued and valiant member of the farm community. While repression and rigidity are alluded to throughout, his decision to return to his parents and his vow to spread the truth seems foolhardy for someone his age. Also, the adults allowing his cousin to accompany him Inside for the summer further belies the danger. An interesting but not entirely successful trip back to the future.-Luann Toth, School Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
Bawden (Granny the Pag, 1996, etc.) veers into near-future fantasy in an occasionally heavy-handed novel. In the year 2035, Tom lives with his parents and his grandfather, whom he calls Gandy, in an enclosed environment. They are kept safe from the natural world, which Tom perceives as wild and dangerous. In his world, every family has one child, the words "brother" and "sister" are terrible slurs, children are catered to, and the Oldies, e.g., Gandy, are taken away to Memory Theme Parks when they reach 65, never to be heard from again. When Gandy escapes to the wilds outside, Tom follows him, and finds a world of farming, husbandry, extended families, and many children. He is enchanted by a cousin, baby Joshua, and astounded that elders are respected and admired; he begins to question everything he believes. Bawden takes shots at vegetarians, child-focused families, those who believe elders have neither brains nor emotions, big government, and those who fear ideas of any kind (books are frowned upon by the "Protectors"). While the storyline is occasionally muddled, and some elements (e.g., the rigorously managed society and its dark underside) well-worn, the cast is worth knowing: Tom, Gandy, and the family Outside capture and hold interest. (Fiction. 9-13)
From the Publisher
"For sci-fi buffs not yet ready to tackle Orwell's 1984, Bawden here introduces many of the same issues for middle graders." PW Publishers Weekly
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780754061724
  • Publisher: Chivers Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Series: Galaxy Children's Large Print Series
  • Edition description: LARGEPRINT
  • Pages: 225
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Nina Bawden is foremost among twentieth-century writers of fiction for children. A reviewer in Publishers Weekly wrote: "I'll come right out and say it. For my money, Miss Bawden can so no wrong. Her stories area a perfect blend of humor and suspense, and that's a blend difficult to achieve." Ms. Bawden was born in London, England, and lived there until she was evacuated with her school during the Blitz in World War II. She later attended Somerville College, Oxford. She and her husband, Austin Kark, live in London, except in the spring and summer, when they go to their home in Nauplion, Greece.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006

    Off the Road is On Target

    In the book Off The Road by Nina Bawden, the main characters are Tom and his grandfather Gandy. Tom is 12 years old and lives with his mom Penny and his dad William in the Urb. This book takes place in the future where a wall has been constructed around the Urb, that is said to keep out barbarians, dragons, protects all of the people and trees that are alive. In the Urbs, there was no play or exercise and everything has been deodorized. All of the Urb residents were vegetarians and families had only one child. The region on the other side of the wall is called the ¿Outside¿. Gandy is 65 years old and is sent a letter by the Protectors that states that he is to go to a Memory Theme Park, permanently, that is, until he passes away. So when Tom¿s parents say they that they are going to an amusement park they are really dropping Gandy off at a retirement home. When they pull of the road to go to the bathroom, Gandy sneaks under the wall. Tom, fearing for Gandy¿s safety. follows him under the wire. He finds himself in another world where life is very different than where he comes from. Tom has heard stories about the dangers of the Outside. He finally catches up to Gandy, but Gandy is seen being talked to by three rangers. Tom fearing that they are barbarians he rams his head into the stomach of one of them. The ranger starts to laugh and tells Gandy and Tom that they have to go straight to the ranger¿s office, so that they can return home. Gandy ignored the ranger¿s request and he trudged on with Tom at his heels. They then meet Simon Watkins the local carrier, Postman, and News bearer and he agrees to take them to see Gandy¿s brother in Owlbury Hall. When they arrive at Owlbury hall they are greeted by Gandy¿s brother and all of his family. In his family they include all of Tom¿s first, second, and third cousins. Living with all of his cousins and their family¿s was hard at first because he had to learn a lot of new rules. First, in his world kids were respected the most, but in this world oldies (people past 60) were respected the most. So Tom had to help work on the fields, sine he wanted respect he worked till he couldn¿t work anymore. He gained respect from Gandy¿s brother and that made Tom proud. Then all of a sudden someone started screaming for m out of nowhere. It was his aunt Tess, and she couldn¿t find her youngest son Joshua. Tom decide to go look for Joshua at night and by luck he followed a mysterious person all around the city, then when he disappeared behind a hill, Tom was so tired that he fainted from exhaustion. When he awoke he found himself near a tree with Joshua close by. He then carried Joshua about a mile then got a lift from Simon Watkins. He then returned Joshua to Aunt Tess and slept. All of this time Tom was very homesick so he decided to go back home to Penny and William, but he didn¿t go alone. He was accompanied by his cousin Lizzie saying that she like his world ant wanted to check it out. So, they crawled under the wall and returned to his house on the inside of the wall. The main character of the book was Tom, who had lived his 12 years in the very protected Urb, and he suddenly found himself in the Outside while trying to rescue his grandfather. He struggled with understanding the rules of the Outside because in the Urb, children are respected the most while ¿Oldies¿, like Gandy, are sentenced to Memory Parks. Tom adjusted to life on the Outside, with the help of his cousin Lizzie and even became a hero by saving his baby cousin Joshua. The title of the book refers to Tom¿s adventures and the problems he faced in a very different world than the one that he was used to. By going ¿off the road¿, he was disobeying the laws of the ¿Inside¿ and he went beyond the limits of the hygienic and sanitary life that he knew, to another life

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    Great Book, liked it alot

    I don't usually like sci fi books or books about the future, but I loved this book I read it in 3 days. I like this book becuase it is not so far fetched that you can't relate to it, and the characters are much like us except they are from the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2001

    Great adventure

    Tom leaves the safe world he has known on 'The Inside' when he slips under the electrified fence to try to bring back his grandfather. Life on 'The Outside' is not at all what he expects when he meets family he did not know existed. The ending is a nice twist. A thoroughly enjoyable book. If you liked 'The Giver' you will like this.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2001

    This book is a no no

    I do not like this book because of criteria, its a no no

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