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Collins, Suzanne.
New York : Scholastic, 2003.
IL 3-6, RL 6.0
ISBN 0439435366

(5 booktalks)

Booktalk #1

Since his father disappeared without a trace almost three years ago, his grandmother is becoming increasingly senile, and his mother is forced to work two jobs to support them, Gregor is stuck in the city watching his 2-year-old sister, Boots, for the summer.  While doing laundry in the high-rise laundry room, Gregor watches Boots fall down an open airshaft.  He barely thinks twice before he jumps in after her and they both find themselves in a strange world beneath the city.  The Underland is a place of people-sized cockroaches that you can ride like skateboards, bats big enough to carry people, giant spiders that talk, and huge, nasty Rats determined to eliminate all the people from the Underland.  There's a prophecy and a quest, some fearsome fights with Rats and a betrayal, and some pretty cool flying on bats, and if he survives all this Gregor just might have a chance to find his missing father.  (New Hampshire Great Stone Face Committee, 2004-05)

Booktalk #2

Gregor wishes he were at summer camp like the other kids and not taking care of his 2 year old sister, Boots. One day he and Boots fall through a grate in their apartment laundry room and begin a fantastic adventure. Gregor falls into the dark Underland, a place inhabited with giant rats, cockroaches, bats, and spiders as well as a species of humans that live in an underground city. At first Gregor and Boots just want to get back home, but then Gregor learns that his father who had disappeared years before is also in the Underland, being held by giant rats who want to wage war on the humans. An ancient prophesy foretold that a warrior from the Overland will defeat the rats. The humans believe Gregor is that warrior. Gregor wants no part of it until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change his life forever.   (Jean B. Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2005-2006)

Booktalk #3

Everyone who knows them is convinced that 11 year old Gregor's dad deserted his family just before Gregor's little sister Boots was born.  Gregor and his mom are just as sure that something bad has happened to his dad because he loved his family too much to ever desert them.  But it's been two long years and no one has heard a word and Gregor realizes that his mom is starting to lose hope of ever hearing from him again.  While Gregor struggles to keep believing in his dad, he helps his mom as much as possible which means a lot of babysitting. So, when Boots falls down an open grate in the basement of their NYC apartment house, Gregor immediately goes through the grate himself to rescue her.  But instead of falling the short distance he expects, Gregor and his sister keep falling, and falling, and falling, until they land in a world known as the Underland. 

This world is populated by huge bats, cockroaches and shifty rats who live uneasily with the humans whose ancestors fled the overland.  Although Gregor has never heard of the Underland, the inhabitants have heard of him because there is a prophecy that foretells Gregor's appearance in this dark world. The humans hope that he can save their chosen world from an impending war, but Gregor wants nothing to do with them… until he realizes that his father is also involved with the prophecy.  Will Gregor ever get back to the Overland again?  Will he ever see his mom?  And how can his father be a part of the prophecy too?  To answer these questions, read Gregor the Overlander  Oklahoma Sequoyah Children’s Book Award nominee, 2005-2006

Booktalk #4

Gregor can’t believe he has to take care of his sister and senile grandmother all summer. Always in the back of his mind, he worries about his father, who has disappeared. What happened to him? Where is he? While doing laundry in the laundry room of their apartment complex in  New York City , Gregor’s sister, Boots, falls into an air vent. Gregor rushes in to save her and falls down, down, down – into another world. His sister is also there, and soon they are greeted by HUGE cockroaches that TALK! They are taken to a place where strange looking humans reside and Gregor learns of a prophecy that has foretold his coming. He may be the one to save the Underworld from the giant Rats, an idea he is not comfortable with until he learns the rats have captured his father! Does Gregor agree to lead the battle against the Rats and save his father? (Prepared by: Susan Henley, SCASL Junior Book Awards)

Booktalk #5

When Gregor is washing the family’s laundry in their apartment's laundry room, his two-year-old- sister, Boots, falls down a strange looking vent. Gregor panics and follows Boots through the vent. After falling for what seems like a long time, they finally land, and look up to see a lot of cockroaches, a lot of giant cockroaches. Suddenly the cockroaches start talking to Gregor and ask Gregor if Boots is a princess.  Then the cockroaches start calling him Overlander. After many questions from the cockroaches, Gregor gets the courage to ask them where he is. The cockroaches tell him he is in a place called the Underland. They take Gregor and Boots through a series of tunnels to a large city, filled with giant bats, and cockroaches. He then meets a princess (who is a human) named Luxa, and follows her to the human city. While Luxa gives Gregor a tour of the human city, and Gregor then decides that he has to escape from the Underland and go back to the Overland.  Gregor finds out that the city gets its water supply from a river, and Gregor tries to escape using the river. He steals a boat from a dock at the river and rides it down the river, he then sees that the current can smash large bolders, so he avoids the large rocks in the river. He then sees that he is heading for a large wall, too low to go under. He then jumps off the boat and meets two, giant evil rats. This is just the beginning of a very large battle.  (Shelby, student)

SUBJECTS:     Brothers and sisters -- Fiction.
                        Animals -- Fiction.
                        Missing persons -- Fiction.


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