Article, Booktalks

Gregor the Overlander Booktalk

  • Grades: 6–8

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"Luminous, supremely absorbing...wonderful." — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Fantastically engaging." — Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Fast-paced...immensely satisfying." — The Horn Book

Life is destiny, and once we find it, we must choose to follow it or deal with the consequences.

It was the summer, two years, seven months and thirteen days after Gregor's father disappeared. It was the summer Gregor couldn't go to camp because he had to take care of his little sister Boots. It was the summer he discovered what had happened to his father and what his own destiny was. It was the summer he and Boots fell through a grate in the laundry room in the basement of their New York City apartment building — and landed in a hidden underground world — the Underland.

The Underlanders had created a place to live hundreds of years before, when they'd decided it was safer to live under the ground instead of on top of it. But there were still dangers to be dealt with and enemies to be overcome. The pale-skinned, purple-eyed humans shared their world with creatures that were at once very familiar and very strange to Gregor and Boots.

Giant cockroaches found them when they arrived in the Underland, cockroaches that were four feet tall, carried torches to light their way through the maze of tunnels, and talked in hissing, whispering voices. The cockroaches took the two Overlanders to a stadium where the Underlanders played games while riding on huge bats, and one of the players, an arrogant girl about Gregor's age, said she was their princess, and informed him that he and his sister would be taken to her palace. It felt like they were prisoners, rather than the guests she claimed they were. Gregor didn’t like her or the other people he met at the palace, and late that night, unwilling to trust any of them, he took Boots and ran.

And that’s when they met a third group of huge, intelligent, talking animals — six-foot rats with six inch teeth and dangerous, evil faces. Rats who seemed to think that Gregor and Boots would make an excellent meal. "We might have been prisoners in the palace," Gregor thought to himself, "but at least we weren’t dinner!" The cockroaches had been freaky, the bats intimidating, but the rats were evil through and through, and at war with all humans. Just then, the first bat with its Underlander rider swooped silently into the tunnel, and the battle began. The Underland humans and their bats had come to rescue the Overlanders.

Later, back at the palace, Gregor was given his father's keychain, learned that he was probably a prisoner of the rats, and saw the mysterious carvings that were The Prophecy of Gray, the strangest and least-understood of all the prophecies of the Underlanders. It told of an Overlander warrior who would lead a group of warriors called The Eight in a final battle against the rats. And even though Gregor didn’t think he looked or even felt like a warrior, he realized that Luxa and her people believed that he and Boots were the fulfillment of that prophecy. "Each person carries his own destiny," Gregor was told, "and yours has brought you here to us."

Was Gregor really the leader of The Eight? And if he was, who from this strange world would go with him, and why?

This booktalk was written by librarian and booktalking expert Joni R. Bodart

 

  • Part of Collection:
  • Subjects:
    Changes and New Experiences, Confronting and Resolving Fears, Cleverness, Growing Up, Courage, Bravery, Heroism, Creativity and Imagination, Siblings
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