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On Sale: July 22, 2008
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89216-5
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
Synopsis

Synopsis

Before he wrote the bestselling 100 Cupboards trilogy and Ashtown Burials series, N. D. Wilson delighted readers with his first unforgettable action-adventure story of survival. . . .
 
Thomas Hammond has always lived next to Leepike Ridge, but he never imagined he might end up lost beneath it! The night Tom’s schoolteacher comes to dinner and asks Tom’s mother to marry him, Tom slips out of the house and escapes down a nearby stream on a floating slab of packing foam. The night and stars lull Tom to sleep, and when he wakes, he has ridden his foam raft all the way to the ridge, where the stream dives underground. Flung over rapids and tossed through chasms, Tom finally hits shore, sore but alive. What Tom finds under Leepike Ridge—a dog, a flashlight, a castaway, a tomb, and buried treasure—will answer questions he hadn’t known to ask, and change his life forever. Now, if only he can find his way home again. . . .
 
In the grand tradition of Robinson Crusoe, Hatchet, and Tom Sawyer, N. D. Wilson’s first book for young readers is a remarkable adventure, a journey through the dark and back into the light.
 
A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
“This is a ripping good adventure yarn. . . . Here’s the perfect remedy for any summer that’s been disappointingly short on thrills.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Starred

“Wilson’s debut is a literate, sometimes humorous page-turner in the classic tradition. Well-read adventure lovers are in for a treat looking for echoes of The Odyssey and Tom Sawyer.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Tom’s adventures have several literary ancestors, including Tom and Huck in the cave, and the inventive Swiss Family Robinson, but this is solidly set in the present, standing on its own with well-crafted suspense and fascinating survival detail. . . . [M]iddle-grade readers will also relish the physicality of the journey: underwater swims, tight passages, and rock climbing. . . . [An] appealing and easy-to-booktalk package.”—Booklist

“Wilson sets the scene vividly, from Tom’s home to the labyrinth of tunnels and caverns under the mountain, and the central characters’ emotional lives develop both naturally and affectingly. [Readers] will appreciate both the fast-paced adventure and Tom’s determination to make the impossible journey back home.”—The Horn Book Magazine

“Wilson’s rich imagination and his quirky characters are a true delight.”—School Library Journal

N. D. Wilson

About N. D. Wilson

N. D. Wilson - Leepike Ridge
Stories have always been in my life. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t listening to a story or being read to. When I was two, my father read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the family after dinner (the family at that point consisted of my mother, my older sister, and myself). My mother was fairly certain that I didn’t understand any of it. My father, however, pointed to scientific evidence: during the battle scenes, I always turned bright red and began sweating nervously in my high chair.
Once, while I was misbehaving in my bath (it only happened once), my older sister was commissioned to tell me a story. She began to recite the beginning of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe verbatim. Which should tell you how often we’d heard it.
At nights, my mother would compose stories for me (stories that she falsely insists were awful–mostly about a gentleman named Tiny Tim). I don’t remember any particular tale, but I do remember what they did to me, as I lay in bed, clutching Billy, my stuffed, hybrid monkey-bear, staring at the sloped ceiling in my room and listening to my mother’s voice and the washing machine chugging in the corner (yes, the washing machine was in my room). My father once wrote me a story, bound it in a blue folder, and read it to me. The story starred a young fellow who happened to share my name (Nathan), and who also happened to kill a goblin king with his baseball bat (something I still intend to do). I am extremely fond of that story, and I pay tribute to it with elements in both Leepike Ridge and 100 Cupboards (a character trapped underground, the handiness of baseball bats, a grub-eating wizard, and a couple other things that only my father and I will know about).
My grandfathers were both storytellers. Both were military men, and both lived through some truly strange experiences. Growing up in San Louis Obispo, my mom’s dad hunted small sharks with a modified garden hoe somewhere around the ripe old age of ten. He flew bombers in World War II and Korea, and I’ve watched old home movies of some of his bombing runs. I’ve also watched home movies of him sneaking onto the roof of the Vatican with his then eight-year-old son (my uncle Bob). To this day, when I’m with him, he can surprise me with new stories.
As for my dad’s dad, well, he was raised on a Nebraska farm. His parents (and, I believe, his older brother) had moved there in a covered wagon. But it was a posh covered wagon–rolling on cutting-edge rubber tires.
For as long as I remember, my grandfather has been traveling, returning, and telling stories. At a very early age, I announced to my parents that when I grew up, I was going to be like Grandpa and tell everyone about my trip. The only problem is that my trips haven’t been as interesting.
There’s a reason why I dedicated 100 Cupboards to my grandfathers. They both infused my (fantasy-drifting) imagination with a taste for real-world adventure. 100 Cupboards is what happens when those things are thoroughly blended together (along with milk and sugar).
I live in Idaho, and I love the west, the rolling hills and vast, empty places. I grew up here, playing in those fields, floating in creeks, climbing in old barn lofts, and sledding (contrary to wisdom and the instruction of my elders) across frozen ponds. After graduate school in Maryland, I moved back. I currently live one block from the hospital where I was born, the hospital where all my kids have been born (one even in the same room).
I should tell you about my wife. I first heard her name spoken (Heather Garaway) while visiting home during grad school. My brother-in-law had briefly met her (and a number of other people) while visiting Santa Cruz, California. When he said her name it had a rather strange effect on me. It didn’t make me starry-eyed or mushy-stomached. It made me nervous, like I needed to look over my shoulder because I was about to be hit by a bus. My life was going to change.
I like to think of myself as rational. But while a friend drove me back to the airport, I took him as a witness to my strange sensation. That was at the beginning of October. Back in Maryland, I had an e-mail waiting for me from her. A friend of hers was attending the same school I was and he needed a place to live. On Halloween, I met her (she was traveling to Ireland and had a layover in Maryland). Just after Thanksgiving, I asked her to marry me. She was a globe-trotting surfer (and had just surfed her first pro contest when we met). And she said yes because she loved stories (and apparently me), and she knew what all her favorite characters in books would have done. She moved inland for me, but the saltwater is still in her veins. We have four beautiful children and she will teach them all to surf.
Her hair smells like rain, and it clings to my face like Velcro when I kiss her.
I love stories. I love finding them. I love telling them. I’m doing my best to live them. I couldn’t be more grateful for the life I’ve been given.
Praise | Awards

Praise

“This is a ripping good adventure yarn. . . . Here’s the perfect remedy for any summer that’s been disappointingly short on thrills.”
—The Bulletin, Starred

“Wilson’s rich imagination and his quirky characters are a true delight.”
—School Library Journal

“[Children] will appreciate both the fast-paced adventure and Tom’s determination to make the impossible journey back home.”
—The Horn Book Magazine

Awards

SUBMITTED New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
WINNER 2007 New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
NOMINEE 2011 Washington Sasquatch Reading Program Master List
NOMINEE New York State Charlotte Award
NOMINEE Kentucky Bluegrass Award
NOMINEE Rhode Island Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Kansas William White Award
NOMINEE Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
NOMINEE New Hampshire Great Stone Face Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Georgia Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Minnesota Maud Heart Lovelace Award
NOMINEE Missouri Mark Twain Award
NOMINEE South Carolina Children's Book Award
NOMINEE South Carolina Junior Book Award
NOMINEE Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



NOTE TO TEACHERS

An original mix of Robinson
Crusoe, King Solomon’s Mines,
The Adventures of Tom
Sawyer, and The Odyssey.

ABOUT THIS BOOK

After 11-year-old Tom Hammond gets lost in
a series of underground caves, he must survive
long enough to figure a way out of the labyrinth
and back to his mountain home before the
villainous treasure hunter who murdered his
father can do the same to his mother.

Tom Hammond’s odyssey of survival and self-
discovery begins when he decides to turn a piece
of packing foam into a raft. Angered that his mother
might remarry just three years after the mysterious
death of his father, Tom decides to try out the raft
on the river that runs near his mountain home. The
river’s powerful current drags him under the nearby
ridge and deposits him in a series of caverns that
connect to mysterious rooms and tunnels. There
Tom meets a man who has survived in the caves for
three years, a faithful dog, and rooms of ancient
treasure. Tom and his new companions must
discover a route out of the caves in time to save his
mother from a band of murderous treasure hunters.
In the process, Tom discovers the true story of his
father’s death and the key to his own identity.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

N. D. Wilson is a Fellow of Literature at
New Saint Andrews College, where he
teaches classical rhetoric to freshman. He
is also managing editor for Credenda/Agenda
magazine, a small Trinitarian cultural journal.
He lives in Idaho with his wife and four
children. Leepike Ridge is his first novel for
young readers.

TEACHING IDEAS

Leepike Ridge is
chock-full of allusions
to two of N. D.
Wilson’s favorite
novels: The Odyssey
and Tom Sawyer. Like
these tales, Leepike
Ridge is the story
of journey, survival,
and self-discovery.
Introduce allusion
as a literary device.
Then, read excerpts
from each classic
story that are relevant
to Leepike Ridge,
so that students will
recognize many of the
allusions as they read
the text. (One obvious
allusion is that both
Tom Hammond and
Tom Sawyer are
trapped in caves
that hold treasure.)
pre-readingactivity
Leepike Ridge is
chock-full of allusions
to two of N. D.
Wilson’s favorite
novels: The Odyssey
and Tom Sawyer. Like
these tales, Leepike
Ridge is the story
of journey, survival,
and self-discovery.
Introduce allusion
as a literary device.
Then, read excerpts
from each classic
story that are relevant
to Leepike Ridge,
so that students will
recognize many of the
allusions as they read
the text. (One obvious
allusion is that both
Tom Hammond and
Tom Sawyer are
trapped in caves
that hold treasure.)
thematic connections

DISCUSSION AND WRITING

Survival—Reg has remarkable survival skills. Discuss how these skills help Reg
survive underground for three years. Cite examples of both Tom’s and Reg’s ingenuity.

In chapter six, Tom realizes that the water level has risen and that he must
leave the beach before he drowns. Have students re-read pages 71–77. Discuss
how Tom’s survival instinct and will to live deliver him to Reg.

In his treasure room, Reg keeps items that he has found in his net. He says,
“Most of this stuff isn’t that useful, but what hasn’t kept me alive has kept me
sane.” (p. 125) Discuss what Reg means by this statement. Why is it so
important to “exercise” one’s mind?

Perseverance—As Tom descends into the watery mountain, he fights with all
of his strength to survive the fall. “He stopped counting the collisions. Shin,
shoulder, skull, and knuckles, ribs all throbbed. His numb mind ignored them.
He was still alive and that is all that it would process: life, one breath at a time.”
(p. 23) Discuss how this idea of living, one breath at a time, helps Tom in his
journey. How can you apply this idea to your own life?

Hope—Elizabeth refuses to accept that Tom is dead. On pages 25 and 114,
how does Elizabeth demonstrate hope that her son is still alive?

How are the Crazy Berry juice boxes that Tom and Reg drink during their first
meal together a symbol of hope? In chapter fourteen, “Crazy Berry,” Tom and
Reg drink the last two boxes while sitting atop the chimney. At this point in the
story, what do you think the juice boxes symbolize?

Friendship—Have students re-read pages 134–136. How does the experience
that Ted and Reg go through together demonstrate an unyielding friendship?
How does Tom and Reg’s experience surviving in the caves and eventually
finding a way out forge a solid bond between them?

Although Phil pretends to befriend Elizabeth, how do his actions give him
away? What does he do and say that show him to be a false friend?

Acceptance—In chapter nine, Tom learns the truth about his father’s death.
Reg says, “Tom. After three years down here, I’ve not learned too much. But
one thing I do know is that our bellies aren’t big enough for revenge. It turns
sour and eats you up.” (p. 137) How does this advice help Tom accept his
father’s death and move beyond his initial need for revenge?

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

Language Arts—N. D. Wilson was greatly inspired
by both Homer’s The Odyssey and Tom Sawyer by
Mark Twain. Most of the characters’ names are
allusions to characters in these classic adventure
stories. For example, Tom is named for Tom Sawyer,
and Cy is an allusion to Cyclops. Have students use
the Internet to research the characters in The
Odyssey. Challenge them to identify the allusions
connected to each character’s name in Leepike Ridge.
(According to the author, the character of Pook is not
an allusion based on The Odyssey).

On Ted Hammond’s grave mound, Reg inscribed the
words: In the ground, the best seed is never wasted.

(p. 130) Ask students to write a journal entry
explaining what this sentence means to them.
Social Studies—While underground, Tom and
Reg discover an ancient tomb that houses a
sarcophagus and other anterooms filled with
carvings of animals, ancient script, broken pottery
and other artifacts. Reg believes that the tomb and
its contents are either Phoenician or Chinese. Give
students time to research one of these ancient
cultures, focusing on tombs and what artifacts
would commonly be placed inside of them.

Reg is a historian and is very knowledgeable about
ancient inventions. He builds a water clock so that he
can keep track of the days. Have students choose an
ancient culture, such as Egyptian, Chinese, or Greek
and research its inventions. Students can report their
findings to the class.

Math—Reg keeps track of his days underground by
carving Roman numerals into a wall. (p. 122)
Introduce or review roman numerals. Discuss how
these numbers are still used today.

Art—Inside the caves, Tom and Reg discover
ancient sculptures in the form of animals. Show
students examples of animal art, specifically
sculpture, from history. Examples might include the
Lion’s Gate at Mycenae, the Great Sphinx of Egypt,
or animal totems that appear in some Native
American tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Help
students work as a team to design and create a large-
scale animal sculpture.

Personification is the literary device of
describing inanimate objects with human
qualities. There are many excellent examples of
personification in Leepike Ridge, such as “The
whispers and conversations of moss disputing
with grass over some soft piece of earth, or the
hummingbirds snoring.” (p. 17) Challenge
students to identify additional examples of this
device in the story. (Other examples can be
found on pages 18, 191, and 218).

VOCABULARY

Ask students to jot down unfamiliar words and
try to define them, taking clues from the context.
Such words may include: constricting (p. 72),
infestation (p. 101), harrumphed (p. 106),
veneer (p. 111), ballast, (p. 113), grisly (p. 118),
gloated (p. 132), detonation (p. 133),
sarcophagus (p. 221), excavation (p. 221),
anticlimax (p. 222), and cuneiform (p. 223).

ABOUT THIS GUIDE

Prepared by Colleen Carroll, Children’s Book Author, Education Consultant, and Curriculum Writer, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

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