In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”

My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Monday, January 16, 2012

THE ONLY ONES by Aaron Starmer

copyright date: Sept. 2011
primarily marketed for: 5th grade and up

The Only Ones is a post-apocalyptic story where all adults mysteriously vanish from the earth and a small group of kids seem to be left behind. 

Martin Maple, the protagonist, is a young boy who was odd prior to the apocalyptic disappearance of adults from the earth.   His mother had disappeared about the same time he was born and his father, though he cared for Martin, was not very nurturing.  Until the mysterious vanishing of adults, Martin and his father lived a very secluded life on an island.  Martin was discouraged from talking to anyone for fear other people will find out about the machine Mr. Maple was building. 

After the disappearance of the adults, Martin ventures to the mainland and meets up with other kids who were left behind.  The story that ensues is reminiscent of Lord of the Flies by William Golding, including plays for power, manipulation, violence, mental illness, and even murder.  Although this is marketed for 5th grade and up, it is a complex and disturbing story.  The scientific concepts involved in the creation and use of the machine Martin’s father was building, which Martin eventually recreates, demand a high level of interest in and understanding of the relationship between space and time.

This is not my kind of story, but that is not to say it was not a good story.  It is an interesting idea played out by interesting characters.  My favorite character had to be Felix, who builds a post-apocalyptic internet.  Each website is a hollow wooden box, covered in handwritten information, with important documents or objects locked inside.  Links are provided in the form of strings attached to important words/phrases on each block that lead to other blocks.  The Only Ones is filled with thought provoking images like this one that add up to create a unique story, but not necessarily in a world where I would like to be.


  1. It does sound creepy. I like these kinds of stories & imagine that there are 5th graders who read all things sci-fi will too, but I agree that it could be more accessible to older students. Thanks!

  2. Your blog set up is so colorful and inviting!

  3. Not my story either, but thanks for the review. I blog a lot of first line/paragraphs, hoping to pique the interests of reader.
    I will probably blog this one,

  4. I found you through the comment challenge and just wanted to say that I love the purpose for your blog. What a terrific idea adn I hope you do have students that are reading this and following your recommendations.