Among the Barons (Shadow Children Series #4)

Among the Barons (Shadow Children Series #4)

by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Cliff Nielsen (Other)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780689839108
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date: 09/01/2004
Series: Shadow Children Series , #4
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 45,595
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 710L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed YA and middle grade novels, including the Children of Exile series, The Missing series, the Under Their Skin 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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Mr. Hendricks had taken aliking to Trey and was working with him privately. That was why Trey was running errands for him today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh," Luke said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Having your brother here at school with you."

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

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

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

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


Copyright © 2003 by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Table of Contents

Reading Group Guide

THE SHADOW CHILDREN BOOKS

Among the Hidden

Among the Impostors

Among the Betrayed

By Margaret Peterson Haddix

A Guide for Reading Groups

About the Books

Sometimes in this world it's hard to know who is telling the truth, who isn't, and what can be done about all the things that are wrong. The government claims that there isn't enough food for everyone in the world, and so they have made it illegal for any family to have more than two children. Yet hundreds of these illegal shadow children exist, and they want desperately to find a place for themselves in society. But these are children who have been forced to hide their entire lives, and who are only allowed to venture out with fake IDs in their hands and fear in their hearts. How can they sort through the conflicting information about shadow children and find out where they belong? And will they be able to find the courage to defy the government and stop hiding?

Discussion Topics

  • What are some of the ways in which having more than two children would be a burden in this society? Why do some families decide to have illegal shadow children in spite of this added strain? Do you think that the benefits of having another child outweigh the sacrifices that must be made?
  • Luke often feels hurt by the way his father treats him, especially when he is making his decision to leave the family farm. Do you think Mr. Garner means to be cruel? Jen's father, Mr. Talbot, can also seem cruel to the casual observer. Is this image justified? How are their reactions to the children different from the reactions of their wives?
  • How does the government enforce its rules and regulations? Do you think their plan for dealing with the waning food supply is a good one? Do you think it is justified?
  • Nina is reluctant to take on her false identity because she fears she will lose her past and cease to be the same person. Are her fears warranted? How do other shadow children feel about their identities, both old and new?
  • When shadow children stop hiding, they often have difficulty adjusting to their newly expanded world. In what ways would this be a hard adjustment to make? How do the different children react to their new freedoms? What has been done to help make it easier for the children?
  • Luke is a devoted friend to Jen even after her death. Why does he feel such loyalty toward her? Do you think his concept of friendship—as well as his devotion to Jen—would have been different if he hadn't been in hiding all his life? How are Nina's concepts of friendship and love affected by the fact that she is a shadow child?
  • Discuss how each character chooses to fight for the freedom of shadow children. How effective was Jen's rally? Is Mr. Talbot in a better position than the children to fight for change? How do Luke's actions fit into the movement?
  • Many of the characters find they have the potential to lead others. What are the different ways they assume leadership roles? Whose leadership is the most effective? Why?


Activities

  • The world's population grows larger every day. Write a report on population: how it has changed over the years, how it affects our society, and ways of dealing with it.
  • 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.
  • 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. Perhaps you can plant a small garden, or try your hand at hydroponics.

Interviews

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.

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.

Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of many critically and popularly acclaimed teen and middle-grade novels, all published by S&S. 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.

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Among the Barons 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 152 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Among the Barons is the fourth novel in the shadow children series. This novel is my favorite of all the shadow children series. There is never a dull moment; it is filled with many surprises and a great deal of suspense. In this novel Luke, the main character, is a third child and is forced to hide from the outside world, because being a third child is illegal. The only people he had ever talked to were his mother, father, and two brothers. In this novel Luke gets the chance to live a real life and to break away from the shadows. He gets a fake identity of a boy named Lee Grant, who was killed in a skiing accident outside of the United States. Luke is sent to the Hendrix School for boys. At first Luke is very shy and unaware of how to act around other boys in the school. After a few months Luke becomes more and more comfortable with his surroundings and comes to find that almost all of the children at the Hendrix School were shadow children with fake identities. Luke did not stay comfortable for long. He was informed later that year that Smits, his new brother, was coming to Hendrix. After Smits arrived a chain of events is set off and Luke finds out that the boy he has been pretending to be is no ordinary boy. Luke's new name is one of the biggest names in the United States. Luke is told he must return to the Grant's house. When Luke arrives he is greeted with smiles and laughter, but little does he know the Grants are hiding something under all the glamour. He uncovers the real reason he was given Lee Grants identity and finds himself face to face with the shadows once again.
Brittany5704 More than 1 year ago
I began this series when I was in grade school and when I found it again, I had to finish it. They are good books for kids and adults alike. They get you thinking and they help you see the world from a different perspective. Most of all, this series is something that is entirely possible. The series is about a world in which it is illegal for families to have more than two children due to alleged "food shortages". The series is told from the perspective of several different so-called "shadow children," which are the illegal children unlucky enough to be born third, fourth, or even fifth in their family. Their lives consist hiding and a deep fear of the population police. It might be frightening for some children to read (I know that it scared me a little bit when I was younger--and I'm not even a third child in my family!). It is a scary thought for a child to imagine these kinds of things to be possible. I still recommend it for children to read--and their parents too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this series is so cool and it gets even more awesome and intense with the series! I think everyone should read this!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these books. Even though I'm only one thr thrird book I still like it. I liked how the secong book was boring at first but when you get going it gets better. But so far my favoite is the third. When Nina went to save Percy, Matthias, and Alia from prison that is so far my favorite part. I wonder if they will get cought. I also wonder if they are going to find Lee Grant. My best guess is that they will find Lee and ask to use his garden. I bet the three kids are third children. But the fourth book looks like it might be better then the third. All I know is I am going to keep reading the series. It has been amazing reading these first three books. I was'nt sure if the first book would be good. But I guess it is. If I could get my sister to read this book and she likes it I will be amazed. Because she has read th hobbit and she likes it. So I'm not even sure if she will like the first second book. She read the first book and liked it. So I'm wondering if she will like the second book. But the point is that I like the book and I'm still going to read the books. Got to run see you people who like these seires
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so cool
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Full of mysteries. cant wait to read what happens next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The first time i read this i was in my 4th grade reading class!!! I fell in love with it!!!! I started reading all of the other books in the series!!!!!
Paula Corbett More than 1 year ago
This series from haddix is amazing she can really think
ashtonn More than 1 year ago
Among the Barons, is the fourth book about the shadow children, with the main character named Luke. Luke is the third child in his family, but third children are illegal during those times.Luke attends Hendricks school for boys, with other boys who are illegal third children. He receives the I.D. of a dead boy named Lee Grant. While away at school, Luke's (Lee) brother "Smits" Grant comes to school with him,. Smits is one of the real Grant family members. After a dangerous happening at the school, the boys are taken away to the Grants homestead. Luke doesn't understand why the Grants want him to come home, after being ignored by them for so long. Luke finds out he is just a pawn for the Grants power and money, and they want to stage his death. Smits bodyguard "Oscar", knows the secret that Luke is not Lee and what had happened to the real Lee. Luke is stuck between choosing to help the Grants or Oscar.This is one of the most interesting books, I have ever read. If you haven't read it, I strongly suggest you do. It is good for children of all ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is filled with nonstop action and what will luke do with his idenity
Guest More than 1 year ago
these shadow children books are soooo AWESOME i just read the 5th and cant wait for the 6th!!! i love how there is no boring part....you just cant put the book down!!!!
MissBoyer3 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Smits had nothing left of his brother.He was gone.And Luke had taken his name.How could anyone hear Smits sobbing and think he was merely a foolish, homesick kid? Luke knew what grief was like....What if Oscar suddenly understood, too?Smits's grief was dangerous. Smits's grief could kill Luke.As a third child in a society that allows only two children per family, Luke Garner was in hiding for the first twelve years of his life. Then he was given the freedom of an identity card that had belonged to Lee Grant, a Baron (a member of the highest class of society), and was sent to boarding school as Lee. But now, just when things are finally starting to go right, Lee's little brother, Smits, arrives at school, and Luke finds himself caught in a web of lies that gets more complex with every passing day ¿ and possibly even lethal. Can Luke trust the grief-stricken Smits to keep Luke's secret? And can he trust Smits's menacing bodyguard, Oscar?
mm.fall07.jmenodza on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This book is about a third illegal child,named Luke Garner. All his life he has been living in hidding but when he meet this courages little girl, he started to understand what being free meant!
t1bclasslibrary on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Luke is suddenly forced to take on his identity of Lee Grant for real- he has to go to the Grants and avoid being forced into hiding, being killed, or having his new found younger brother killed. He manages to escape with the help of his friends, and to give his new younger brother a home with his own family.
wiggy on LibraryThing 7 months ago
very interesting and nerve wreking never knew what was coming up or what would happen, if it was good or bad or what.
AngelaHanf on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Quick read. Is book 4 in a series I heard about from a friend of my hubby.
jreams10 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
This book is about Luke who finds Lee's brother coming to Hendricks. When Luke meets Smits, later on there is a fire at the school. Smits' parents call in and they want him home ASAP, and they want Luke with them. Later on when they're at the house, they have a party and the president. If you want to know what happens at the party, READ THE BOOK.
ERMSMediaCenter on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In a future world of false identities, government lies and death threats, Luke feels drawn to the younger brother of the boy whose name Luke has taken.
PaulWW on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Who do you trust? Is it all a lie? More Shadow Children goodness from Ms Haddix.
sandrabrazier More than 1 year ago
What a surprise it is for Luke, aka Lee, when he is told that his little brother would be joining him at Hendricks! He has never met this ‘brother’, as his false identity had been taken from a deceased boy he’d never met. If you had not yet read this series, Luke is a third child in a society in which third children are illegal. Anyway, after a near-tragedy, both boys are sent ‘home’. Now, in his ‘home’ surrounded by ‘family’, Luke must work even harder to be Lee. He discovers so many lies that he can no longer distinguish the truth from fiction. This is the fourth book in the SHADOW CHILDREN series, and it is one of the best. As with all the books in the series, the characters are well-developed and the action is nonstop. But this one has lots of twists and surprises.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the shadow children series i am now on the 4th book Among the Barons i just got done with Among the Betrayed. I cant belive what mr. Talbot does to nina. Apparently it was a couple of tests but i dont think so. Jason i cant belive tryed to betray all of them that made me so sad.
Grace8411 More than 1 year ago
The book Among the Barons is a very good book and is the 4th book in the shadow children sequence. It tells of a young boy named Luke who hid from the outside world and couldn’t be seen. Luke was born as a third child and having 3 kids was considered illegal. But in this book Luke got a fake identification card of a kid who was rich but died skiing outside the U.S. The child who died was named Lee Grant and was loved by everyone in his family. Luke with his fake identification card got sent to Hendrix School for boys. After a few days of his stay Smith came to visit him, he was the son of the Baron family came to visit him. The identification card that Luke free from being a third child had originally been a son of the Baron family, which made Smith and him brothers. Smith had arrived with a body guard and was often quarreling with the body guard. They caused so much trouble that they were sent back to the Baron home, but this time Luke came them. That night Luke found out that the real reason that the Baron’s took him in was not for love but to use him and then return in to where he came from. Which means that Luke has to go back into hiding after the Baron’s were done with him. Luke was angry and frustrated, they didn’t understand what it was like to go back into hiding. Where there was no one to talk to or play with, all he could do was hid and not let others know his presence. So he came up with different plans. Read to find out what happened and if he succeeds or not!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its soooo lame