Editor’s Choice

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Here readers will find a list of titles that the editor has chosen to highlight. Each month a new title is added to this list
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This Month’s Editor’s Choice

Beneath

Beneath

Roland Smith
Fiction
For ages 10 to 12
Scholastic, 2015   ISBN: 978-0545564861

A year ago Pat’s big brother Coop left home and no one has heard from him since. Coop was always different. He did not embrace technology the way his peers did and he did not care about the things that they cared about either. He loved to tap dance, and he was fascinated by what might lie beneath his feet, which is why, at the age of fourteen, he started to dig a tunnel. With Pat’s help Coop worked on his tunnel for months until it was more than a mile long. Then the boys hit a gas line and there was an explosion. The tunnel collapsed and Coop saved Pat by digging him out and getting him to safety.

   Four years later Coop disappeared without leaving his family so much as a note. Now, a year to the day after he left, Pat gets a package from Coop. In it there is a small recorder, which contains a message from Coop. He asks Pat to use the recorder to create audio files that he can put on memory sticks which Pat can then mail to Coop using a PO Box number in New York City.

   The brothers communicate back and forth, and then Coop stops responding to Pat’s mail. Worried about his brother, Pat contacts the post office in New York, and he even calls the FBI agent who investigated the tunnel disaster. She promises to get the word out that Coop is missing, but Coop is not a child any longer and the authorities tend not to worry too much about young men who run away from home.

   In the end Pat decides to go to New York to find Coop. He tells his Dad that he is going to Florida to see his mother for the holidays, and he tells Mom that he is going to Belize with his dad. Sometimes it is convenient to have parents who are separated. Pat finds the post office and the post office box, and he talks to a homeless lady who knows Coop, but she does not know where he is now. Then Pat sees a man, a businessman in a suit, open Coop’s PO box and take out his mail. Pat decides to follow the man and he sees him go into a gym. When the man comes out of the gym he is no longer looks like a businessman. Instead, he looks like a homeless person.

   Later, Pat follows the man to the bank where he works and he talks to him. The man, cornered by Pat, agrees to take Pat to see Coop. To Pat’s surprise, and horror, the man takes him under the streets of New York City to a place where the Community live. These are people who choose to live underground. They are a secretive bunch who don’t like strangers, and they are not happy to see Pat. A girl is there, whom Pat learns is from a place called the Deep. Apparently another group, the People of the Deep (Pod) lives even further underground. The people there were born underground, and according to the Community they are bestial savages. The leader of the Community tells Pat that Coop has gone to find the Deep.

   The Community members never go to the Deep and they plan on taking Pat back to the surface, but the girl, who is called Kate, comes to his rescue. She knows Coop. In fact she rescued him from the Pod when he stumbled into their territory. Coop is now a prisoner of the Pod, and Kate is willing to help Pat rescue him. The problem is that Pat has claustrophobia. Coming to the Community was bad enough. How will he be able to bear spending hours going through tiny dark tunnels? What makes things even worse is the fact that the Pod are dangerous. They are organized and have dogs that they use to find trespassers.

   In this thrilling story, Roland Smith tells a tale that will keep readers sitting on the edge of their seats. You never quite know what to expect next, and in the end it turns out that Coop, and Pat, have got themselves in the middle of something that is a lot bigger than they ever imagined. 

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