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4.35  ·  Rating details ·  488 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek--two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published June 5th 2018 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
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Community Reviews

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Engaging and thought provoking. One of my favorite Kate Messner books, yet!
Jillian Heise
There was more to this than I expected from the teasers and knowing some of the background of the story from Kate's posts. I was drawn in by the different layers to the story, the multi-genre method of telling it, and the characters authenticity. And Messner allows the characters and circumstances to delve into deeper issues of racism and systemic oppression, in a way that is engaging and developmentally appropriate for the targeted age level, making this a must purchase for intermediate and mid ...more
Rachel Harder
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most captivating and brilliant books I’ve read in a long time.
Rebecca Sofferman
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
I just finished Breakout and I hardly know what to say except please do yourself a favor and read it! I’ve been a fan of Kate Messner’s books for years but this is by far her best and perhaps most important work yet. I thought I was going to be reading a book based on the true story of a prison breakout that happened near my home, which had me intrigued from the start. But the book also takes on the issue of white privilege in the context of a rural north country town where most kids have no ide ...more
Lorie Barber
So I cry a lot when I'm reading books. That wasn't true for this one. But as I reflect on what I've just read and write my review, I am in tears.

Breakout is unequivocally in my top 3 for best books ever written for middle-grade readers. In an effort to educate myself on racism and oppression in the United States, I have read a lot of YA fiction (Angie Thomas, Nic Stone, Jason Reynolds are a few that spring to mind) that has tackled the tough topic of racism. I've been waiting for a middle-grade
Wendy Garland
When two inmates escape from the local jail, an extended manhunt causes Nora to think twice about her small, safe and friendly town. Nora and her journalist buddy Lizzie set out to listen and report on the situation which we read about via letters, texts, and transcripts for the town time capsule. What they learn is that people are more than the choices they make. They also discover that their quiet little town was more racially biased than they imagined. Kate Messner does a brilliant job of gen ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Eildeeeeeee <3 <3 <3 I loved this book from top to bottom - the multiple format telling (text messages, letters, news clippings both "real" and parody), Nora becoming woke to the harsher realities of her sleepy hometown, Lizzie's humor and techniques to improve it, and Eildee writing her way out. I also loved the way Messner included so many outward connections - Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jacqueline Woodson, Nikki Giovanni, Prohibition, Black Lives Matter, William Carlos Williams ...more
Rachel Polacek
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 -- LOVED this story and the different pieces of writing used to tell it. This also got me down a rabbit hole researching the actual prison outbreak from 2015 and those from Alcatraz!
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love a good epistolary, but I haven't come across many in the middle-grade level. This one is told 100% through letters, text messages, newspaper articles, etc. with no prose to tie them together. The letters really serve as the prose to tell the main story. This is, I think, the only downfall of the story. I'd like to have seen fewer of the letters and more narrative, but I appreciate the effort of the letters and the relevance of the text messages being included. (A pet peeve of mine is book ...more
Rebecca Donnelly
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm really looking forward to introducing my library kids & the adults in their lives to BREAKOUT. First, because it’s Kate & it’s got all the hallmarks of one of her beloved middle grade books: a North Country setting, relatable kids and families, & an accessible route into a difficult topic. On the surface, BREAKOUT is about a northern NY community affected by the escape of two inmates from the local correctional facility one summer—a thing that happened in my area in 2015. But Kat ...more
Beth Honeycutt
Feb 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely 4.5 stars! I like the varied format of text in the book and I LOVED the references to Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda), Jaqueline Woodson, and Nikki Grimes.
Christie Allred
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
The premise drew me in and I love the cover. But I struggled to connect with the characters and the dialog did not seem natural in many places. It was very slow paced and repetitive as well. It didn't help that I'm not into poetry, rap, or political hot topics in children's books either—the racism message was very heavy handed. Had I known ahead of time, I would not have read it. Obviously there are many who enjoy this story, so you'll have to try it out for yourself, but it wasn't my style. I d ...more
Linda Owen
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Upstate New York small town; state prison a major employer. Middle school, winding down the school year. English teacher assigns 5 letters to future residents to be put in a community time capsule. Nora Tucker, the prison superintendent's daughter, and her best friend, Lizzie Bruno, are planning end-of-school and summer activities. Elidee Jones, whose brother is a new inmate in the prison, moves to town with her mom. Shortly before the end of school, two inmates break out of the prison. In subse ...more
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read an ARC (thank you, Bloomsbury and NCTE) of this latest Kate Messner story and wow- she has done it again! This author has such a talent for writing middle grade books that tell captivating stories while weaving in serious content (Seventh Wish and Exact Location of Home, for example). And even better, the back matter tells how this book started with a real-life event, was created with research/interviews, and it provides additional sources for readers. This book is a little longer than my ...more
"I'm guessing that once you're the kind of person who thinks about all this stuff,
you don't go back to being the kind of person who doesn't."

Written in prose, poetry, text, photos and graphic art, this book will grab every reader. Complex perspectives are shared through a story told by three unique female characters. The sad truths of privilege and racism are exposed as a small town deals with their fear and uncertainty during a prison break.

The many works of Jacqueline Woodson, among others, i
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interest Level: 5-8

What if your quiet, uneventful, dull town was one day turned upside down and what once felts safe, not so much anymore? What if that same town that you grew up in all of your life was known for being a welcoming, friendly town, but not so much anymore? This is what is happening in Wolf Creek, a town that lives in the shadows of the Wolf Creek Correctional Facility. It is the end of the school year and all Nora can think about is Field Day, sleepovers with her best friend Lizzi
Ms. Yingling
Mar 31, 2018 rated it liked it
ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter

Nora and Lizzie are enjoying the end of the school year in their small, east coast town, waiting for field day and all of the leisure of summer. When two prisoners break out of the local prison (for which most of the local residents work), things become tense. Nora's young brother becomes obsessed with trying to catch the "bad guys" before his birthday party, and reporters and search teams take over the town. For a summer project, the students have been
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the privilege of receiving an ARC of this book from a friend who attended ALA Midwinter. It did not disappoint! I'm so happy to tell my students and colleagues about this book so they can get their hands on it when it releases in June!

First off, the craft of this book grabbed my attention. Because it's told through a collection of documents for a community time capsule project, the reader learns the story through letters, text messages, drawings, and news reports. The pages are "marked" wi
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an amazing book! Kate Messner has a gift with words. How was she able to express the feelings of these middle school students and share how they come to the realization of the racial inequalities of their world? This book is not written judgmentally or inauthentically. I believe this is an example of how people can change their biases, it’s done one at a time, friend to friend. It’s done with family visits and school talks. I also enjoyed the layout of this book. It was written as letters, ...more
Sarah Ackerman
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book. Not just a little. A LOT. Messner delves into such delicate, tricky subject matter with so much heart, compassion, and insight. I live in a small, mostly white town. We are really similar to Wolf Creek (we even have a subdivision and elementary school named Wolf Creek). My daughter could have been Lizzie or Nora - 2 of the main characters. I feel like this book should just be required reading. It’s so smart, and so spot on...I’m gushing a little here and not really saying anyt ...more
Michelle Simpson
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The entire story of prejudice and race is written through a series of letters, essays, articles, texts, and poetry. It allows us to examine different points of view from multiple perspectives. Kate Messner handled an important subject in an outstanding manner. This book is thought provoking and will cause readers to take a step back and reflect, while still being written to appeal to middle grade readers. I look forward to sharing it with students and talking about it with them.

*I received an ea
Amber Webb
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
WOW! This book is a 2018 standout and a must read for everyone! The way Messner set this book up was ground breaking and the best way to write this story. A prison break out in a small town is recorded from multiple perspectives through letters, texts, notes, articles and transcriptions. Very interesting.
The way Messner is able to talk about the big issues such as white privilege and inequity was profound. This book has power and should be read to all children 4th grade and above and discussed t
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful story. On the surface, it’s about a town dealing with a prison break. Under that, though, readers will start to think about bias, racism, and the criminal justice system.

I loved the structure too. Poems, text messages, letters and drawings from multiple characters weave together beautifully.

HIGHLY recommend.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding contemporary middle-grade novel inspired by real events. I loved that the story is told through the use of documents that are submitted to a time-capsule project. I was fascinated by the different perspectives of the various narrators (especially Elidee, whose last few letters brought tears to my eyes, but also Nora who really begins to learn and grow over the course of the story.) I appreciate the novel's focus on issues of racial bias and criminal justice, which are not usually fou ...more
Cassie Thomas
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, middle-grade
What an amazing story. The authors note at the end helped to understand why a prison break, which is helpful! There is so much to be discussed in the story with children that I am real excited to bring into my classroom. As a teacher, I love all of the different styles of writing. A favorite of Kate’s for sure! Must have 2018 story!
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is Kate Messner’s best middle grade novel yet. I could not put it down. Super captivating with a lot of great lessons about bias. I also love the style of this novel which made it a lot of fun to read.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
More detailed review to come, but WOW. This book packed a really big punch, and I LOVED it. So thoughtful and thought-provoking. I want to read everything Kate Messner has written!
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can’t even express how important (and brilliant) this book is.
Kim Bahr
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a 4.5! - Loved the various perspectives and writing formats along with the use of pictures to tell the story. Loved how Elidee was inspired by other poets!
Michele Knott
Finally, a book for middle graders that gets the conversation about race and perception and privilege going.
Oh yeah, and the writing and crafting of this novel is OUTSTANDING.
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Kate Messner is an award-winning author, TED 2012 speaker, and former middle school English teacher. Her books for kids include THE BRILLIANT FALL OF GIANNA Z.,SUGAR AND ICE, and EYE OF THE STORM (Walker/Bloomsbury Dec. 2010) the MARTY MCGUIRE series (Scholastic), SEA MONSTER'S FIRST DAY, and OVER AND UNDER THE SNOW (Chronicle, Books). Kate also wrote SPITFIRE and CHAMPLAIN AND THE SILENT ONE, bot ...more
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“I'm not sure, but I'm guessing that once you're the kind of person who thinks about all this stuff, you don't go back to being the kind of person who doesn't. And that's okay. It's harder, but I think I'd rather be the kind of person who does.” 2 likes
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