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  • Written by N. D. Wilson
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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

ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD THOMAS HAMMOND has always lived next to Leepike Ridge. He never imagined he might end up lost beneath it! What Tom finds underground will answer questions he hadn’t known to ask and change his life forever.
N. D. Wilson

About N. D. Wilson

N. D. Wilson - Leepike Ridge

Photo © Mark LaMoreaux

My name is Nathan David Wilson, and I do not write fantasy. Sure, my stories are full of magic doors, insecure wizards, ghostly ballrooms, fat faeries named Frank, and proud raggants. Yeah, there’s a blind undying witch who sees out of the eyes of her cat. And yep, things go really crazy for Henry York when he touches a dandelion. Sounds like realism to me.
 
As a kid, when I read fantasy (especially Tolkien or Lewis), it was terribly easy for me to become bored with my life. I would look through my window at my relatively small backyard (small when compared to Narnia or Middle Earth) and wish that my world could be more interesting. It needed to be magical. Why couldn’t wardrobes really lead you into Narnia? I lived in Idaho. I’d never even seen a wardrobe, let alone a magic one made from a tree grown from an apple brought from another world. But eventually, and in part thanks to Lewis and Tolkien, I began to open my eyes. This world is magical. It is magical in its past (ask Beowulf or Hercules or Moses). And it is magical right now. All around us, magic is overflowing and running down the streets.
 
Do you really live on a ball spinning in circles through the stars? Does the heat from the closest star really make trees and grass and moss out of the carbon dioxide in the air? Have our wizards really pulled black ooze up from beneath the earth’s skin, mixed it in their lairs into something that explodes, and made us magical metal boxes than can race around on roads, riding on those explosions? Are you bored with that, yawning in your seat belt? Is lightning real? Tornados? Does the big spinning ball beneath us always suck us down, and are we really talented enough to constantly balance on our feet? What kind of creatures are we?
 
Sit Moses and Beowulf down, and listen to their stories. Sit Bilbo down and listen to his. Do you disbelieve their tales? Are they made up? Are they fantasy? Now tell them your stories. Have you flown through the sky in a giant metal tube? Do we have boats that can sail to the very bottom of the sea? Have we thrown men all the way to the moon?
 
A hobbit would laugh at you. To him, your world could not be real. Your stories would be fun to read, beneath a blanket on a rainy day. He might look out of his window and sigh, wishing for a more magical world of his own.
 
In my stories, this world is a magical place, and not because I wish it was. Because it is. Henry York discovers that magic, he discovers it in Kansas, and it is hidden right in front of him, inside his bedroom wall.
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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