OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List: The Explorers – The Door in the Alley

July 19, 2017 at 9:52 am Leave a comment

The sixth in our blog series on the OLA Forest Kid Committee Summer Reading List. Selected by kids for kids, the list has 20 great books for students grades 5 through 8. Follow along on the blog as I attempt to profile as many books on the list as I can before the school year starts up again.
I just finished reading The Explorers – The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

The Haiku Review

Explorersstep off the right path / do something against the rules / open doors: explore

Major Players:

  • Rule-following Sebastian, whose first break from the correct path will change his life
  • Orphan Evie whose seemingly boring life conceals a secret past
  • An adventurous pig who wears a teeny hat

One-Sentence Summary
When 12-year-old ultra-logical Sebastian decides to one day break the rules, he ends up meeting Evie, a young girl with a mysterious grandfather who leads him on the adventure of a lifetime.

Authorial Anecdote
It looks like Adrienne Kress is planning a series of Explorer novels — and a good thing, too, as this one definitely ends with you wanting more! This may be the first book I’ve read that actually ends on a cliffhanger. I’ve read books in series that end with unresolved plot points or mysteries, but never books that actually end in the middle of the action.

Quick Quotes
“I’m not a rule-breaker. I never would have willingly broken the rules. I believe in order. In logic. In following the correct path.” Oh, the correct path, the beautiful, happy, appropriate, correct path. The one that when you veered off it, you landed in stupid, thrilling society buildings with stupid, thrilling names.
With that now-familiar nod of hers, the woman stood up. “Well then. That settles it. You absolutely need to be punished.”

What’d I think?
7/10 pigs in teeny hats
A rollicking adventure and a really promising start to an inventive series that encourages questioning, inquiry, and stepping off the beaten path. I was immediately drawn in by The Explorers’ narrator whose dry sense of humour, witty asides and over-explanatory footnotes are reminiscent of another highly involved narrator, Lemony Snicket from The Series of Unfortunate Events. While this narrator is perhaps not quite as fully-formed as Snicket, I always found their insertions enjoyable, adding a bit of flavour to what could have been a more traditional adventure tale. I also really appreciated the book’s message, which promotes the value of breaking the rules, highlighting that sometimes the best ideas happen by accident. One of the novel’s main characters, Sebastian, has a hard time breaking out of his regimented routines and as a fellow lover of rules, I’m always happy for the reminder that sometimes it’s okay to take risks. I was less a fan of the action-heavy sequences near the novel’s end, and likely could have done without hints towards a romance between Sebastian and Evie — the novel’s other lead. But otherwise, I was wholly along for the ride, and look forward to seeing what other messes Sebastian and Evie get into in future installments.

Check out the other posts in this series:



And stay tuned for more posts on the OLA Kid Committee books.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

New from EduGains: Equity, Well-Being and Assessment June issue of Educational Leadership (ASCD) is all about change

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