Saturday, March 16, 2013

Classic Tale of the Tripods

The White Mountains
Sometimes when you are struggling to find the next book to read, it is good to just reread an old favorite. For me, The White Mountains by John Christopher was one of the first young adult stories I read as an adult, and it was the first story I enjoyed with a student. It had been well over a decade since I read it, so I thought I would pick it up again. And I am glad I did!

Will has always known his Capping Day was coming, but until now, it didn't seem like something to worry about. But as his day grows nearer, he gets more and more worried about the idea of allowing one of the tripods to put a metal cap in his head that would control his thoughts. Everyone in his village had it done and seems content, but there is something about the process that doesn't sit well with Will.

When a Vagrant (a person whose Capping didn't go well) approaches him about the Capping, he is interested in hearing the man's perspective. But it turns out the man wasn't Capped at all. He was masquerading as a Capped Vagrant, but in reality, he was a rebel recruiting unCapped young adults to bring to the White Mountains- a place where the rebels are safe from the Tripods and can plot to take the world back. Will decides to head to the White Mountains, and along the way he acquires two new friends, Henry and Beanpole. But the three boys have a long way to go to the White Mountains and between them and sanctuary are many many tripods. 

This story was written almost 50 years ago and still it is one our kids today could enjoy. I have seen a few comparisons to War of the Worlds, but this story takes place well after the tripods have taken over the world. No one really fights back and everyone accepts the Capping with a complacency that makes them even easier to manipulate and control. The idea of choosing the easier road because you don't want to make life harder with the fight for freedom is a universal theme especially relevant for today's children. Kids who are so far removed from wide-spread social protest don't really understand fighting for freedoms and rights, so this story could easily be related to the current events of our students' lives. 

While this is more of a middle reader, it is a great series for young adults who also like to read science fiction. The stories are easy to read, so they might be best for an older student who has a lower reading skill level. Christopher's stories are classic, and they will survive long after the tripods come to Cap us! So if you have a sci-fi junky who has burned through everything, pass this gem on. You won't be sorry!

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