Among the Barons by Margaret Peterson HaddixAmong the Barons by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Among the Barons

byMargaret Peterson Haddix

Paperback | September 1, 2004

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about

Luke Garner, an illegal third child, spent his first twelve years in hiding. For the past four months Luke has lived among others, using the identity of Lee Grant, at the Hendricks School for Boys. But just as things are finally starting to go right, Lee's little brother Smits arrives at the school and Luke finds himself caught in a tangle of lies that gets more complex with every passing day.
Can Luke trust Smits to keep his secret? And can he trust Smits's menacing bodyguard, Oscar?
Author Margaret Peterson Haddix was born near Washington Court House, Ohio on April 9, 1964. She graduated from Miami University in 1986 with a B. A. in creative writing and journalism. Before becoming an author, she was a newspaper reporter in Indianapolis, an instructor at Danville Area Community College, and a freelance writer. She ...
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Title:Among the BaronsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:208 pages, 7.62 × 5.12 × 0.6 inShipping dimensions:7.62 × 5.12 × 0.6 inPublished:September 1, 2004Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0689839103

ISBN - 13:9780689839108

Appropriate for ages: 8

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book was so good! This book was full of suspense and I've read it multiple times!
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! This book is one of my all time favourite books. The whole series is great.
Date published: 2017-03-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read again and again. This series will always be one of my favourites. The theme is definitely interesting and doesn't even seem that far off from something that could go on in the current world. The writing is brilliant and although the books were written for a younger audience, they are great to read as adults as well.
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Among the Barons Really exciting! Loved it.
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Shadow Children Series The shadow children collection that Margaret Peterson Haddix has written is truly a wonderful read. Great read for all ages. A great read for anytime of the day.
Date published: 2005-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from among the barons review this book is awsome for all ages to read for somthing fun and interesting it draws the reader into the world of fiction could measure up to that of the harry potter series
Date published: 2004-05-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very absorbing... I've been religiously keeping up with Margaret Haddix's Shadow Children series ever since I picked up Among the Hidden in the library about three years ago. The series has been getting more involved and intricate over time, and Among the Barons is easily *the* most intricate of the current set of four. In Among the Barons, Luke has to deal with problems of greater difficulty - there's some people who show up who really don't care much about Luke and would as soon see him gone in one way or another. The book also fleshes out some of the chronology and politics that make up the back story of the Shadow Children series; it introduces the first organized rebel movement as well as actual Barons besides just Mr. Talbot, and the Barons often act self-centered and arrogant, which is a change from the humanistic Mr. Talbot. Overall a good book!
Date published: 2003-06-10

Read from the Book

Chapter OneHey, 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 a liking 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

Bookclub 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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly There are enough cliffhangers and plot twists to keep readers hooked.